The restaurants in the city are shut for diners because of the ongoing lockdown forced by the coronavirus. But the kitchens of a handful of eateries are still preparing food for thousands of people.
The food is not for regular patrons but people who have never entered a fancy eatery — residents of slums, orphanages and shelters for the destitute.
Eight city-based restaurants have come together to serve cooked food to the underprivileged in the wake of the lockdown, that started in the city on March 23.
The food being prepared at the restaurant kitchens is being distributed with the help of police and a network of NGOs.
The exercise is part of the nationwide campaign Feed the Needy, by the National Restaurant Association of India, which represents more than 5 lakh dine-out addresses across India.
1000BC, Barbeque Nation, Kaidi Kitchen, Khichdi Khichri, Refinery 091, Sanjha Chulha, The Grid and Wow! Momo, all part of the association’s Calcutta chapter, have come together for the exercise.
The restaurants are shut for diners and some are only delivering food via online aggregators. But their kitchens are operational to make food for people in slums, orphanages and other areas.
If masala khichdi is being made in one kitchen, another is preparing roti and sabzi. A third is making rice, daal and a curry, another is making vegetable rolls.
“The menu is being decided according to the availability of raw material. The food is nothing fancy. It is simple but being made with love and served hot. Till now, the feedback has been great,” said Asif Ahmed, the owner of Sanjha Chulha and one of the organisers of the campaign.
His brand has four outlets. Only one is operational, for online delivery and to feed the needy.
The association of restaurants (NRAI) is coordinating with the police. The local police stations are sending their vehicles to collect the food from the restaurants. The NRAI volunteers are networking with NGOs who are distributing the food.
The campaign had started on March 24. Around 125 packets of food were prepared on Day 1. Now, around 20,000 meals are now being prepared every day.
One of the destinations the food is reaching is Universal Smile, a home for around 40 children, near the Ruby intersection. “We are stretching our resources to keep the shelter running. The food from the campaign has been of great help,” said Ankita Roy Chowdhury, who started the home with her husband in 2013.
“Food is the most fundamental need of the people…. In Calcutta, we are currently serving nearly 20,000 meals daily and want to take it to at least a lakh a day,” said Sagar Daryani of Wow! Momo.
Source: The Telegraph