Sunday, December 5

#Lockdown but not out: City eateries feed the poor, make sanitisers

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Even at a time when shuttered city restaurants are staring at an uncertain future, many owners and chefs are coming forward to serve people in this hour of crisis. While some of them are cooking every day to feed the underprivileged, others are using their microbreweries to manufacture chemicals for sanitisers.

Kitchens serving the poor

Piccadilly square, Sanjha Chulha and Khichdi Khichri have joined hands to set up kitchens across city, to distribute food packets to the needy. Three temporary kitchens – at Babughat, Metropolitan and Jodhpur Park – are serving more than 1,000 people as of now. They have even adopted an orphanage and a slum near Ruby Hospital, so that no one goes to bed hungry. Meanwhile, industrialist Harshvardhan Neotia’s hospitality team at Aafra has come forward to cook meals for those in need. They have started distributing about 500 food packets to the poor and are ready to do more. Pooja Baid, owner of Piccadilly Square, said the need of the hour, for daily wagers, is assured food, like a dal chawal or khichdi. “It is not about providing a sumptuous spread but the basic, so that these people can stay afloat,” she said.

Protecting, motivating the staff

Restaurant chains with a large number of employees are trying to keep the moral high. Chowman, Oudh 1590 and Chapter 2 have closed all services for more than a week. The challenge, says Debaditya Chaudhury, co- owner, is taking care of more than 1500 employees from different states, half of whom was unable to go back home. All kitchens of the chain are now working to feed the work force that is stuck in the city.

Motivating teams is a concern for many. Harshvardhan Neotia has been sending out motivational videos for his employees. “Instead of complaining, we should engage ourselves in self-improvement activities. I have also asked team leaders in my organisation to engage in conference calls with their respective teams every day,” he said.

Spice Kraft, on the other hand, has closed their services much before the nation-wide lockdown was announced. On March 20, before closing down, they distributed all the ingredients and raw material among the staff members. “I hate wasting food. But more than that, we wanted our employees to have basic food items before closing down,” said Sambit.

Microbrewery makes sanitisers

The scarcity of sanitisers inspired the entire team at The Grid, a popular microbrewery, to help make chemicals for sanitisers and disinfectants along with another company. They are currently making around 30,000 bottles of sanitisers per day at their facilities in Salt Lake and Rajarhat. “We are here to make sure that City of Joy does not run out of hand sanitisers. My team is like an army, fighting this war,” said Gaurav Karnani, co-founder.

The other side of the spectrum

Supriya Mondal, a rickshaw driver, who lives in a slum near Ruby, rued, “I am not being able to drive my auto because of the lockdown. So far, we have been managing from our small savings fund. I am the only earning member in my family of four. I was really worried about the situation. At least now we are getting some food served by the restaurant guys. It is more than enough for us.”

Like Supriya, Shikha Panigragi, a domestic help, informed that most of the households have asked her not to work for the time being. Many of them are not even paying the salary. “Now that we are getting food packets, I don’t have to worry about next month,” she said, adding that she has already spent a lot, buying masks and sanitisers for her family.

 

Source: Times of India

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