Friday, March 24

Food with riders to ensure safety

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A tea taster, a businessman and an IT professional have been reaching out to slum dwellers in the city with food and tips about safety every day from 10am to 3pm.

Loaded with fresh food, they visit slums in 10 areas and teach residents how to stay safe and observe social distancing. Food packets are distributed only to those who wear masks and queue up following the protocol.

“We have only one condition. We distribute food only to those wearing masks. We don’t make exceptions. And it has worked wonders. Initially we had to turn away many who refused to follow the rule. But now residents make it a point to wear masks at least during the distribution,” said Partha Dey, 52, a tea taster and auctioneer, who lives in the South City residential complex.

IT professional Dimple Ahmed, 43, a resident of South City Gardens in Tollygunge, takes a break from work to be part of the distribution. “Everywhere we get asked the same questions. When can we get back to work? Will our employers take us back? ” added Ahmed, who works with an IT solutions company and is a mother of a 12-year-old.

Joining the trio is 29-year-old Pratik V. Sanghvi, also a resident of South City complex. “We were all members of the Robin Hood Army that would tie up with restaurants and distribute food to the marginalised people. So, when this lockdown began, we decided to do our bit for society in our individual capacity,” Dey said.

The three leave by 10 in the morning, driving two cars in different directions. They collect around 2,000 food packets a day from big and small eateries, including a restaurant on Park Street, that give them a discount.

The packets are distributed in areas like Gariahat, Jadavpur, near Ruby Hospital, west canal area, Ultadanga, Tollygunge and Golf Green.

“We often go back to the same slums where local volunteers and the cops help us distribute. We also ensure that the local volunteers sanitise their hands before helping us,” added Sanghvi, a wholesale tea seller.

The trio have distributed 50,000 packets so far. Another individual distributing food packets every day since lockdown is 30-year-old Zeeshan Majeed of Lower Range. The businessman-turned-social worker has been giving 500 food packets to people near the NRS Medical College and Hospital and other slum areas.

“My family and friends chip in with the funds while I get small eateries to make the daily khichdi,” Majeed said.


Source: The Telegraph

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