Ankeet Shah

'The smile on their faces when I hand them over hot, freshly cooked meals - Priceless!'

I own and run a restaurant in Mulund. After lockdown, manypeople suggested that I should use the opportunity to increase my deliverybusiness through food apps. But if I was going to deliver food, it was going tobe for the neediest.

Initially, I volunteered in meal distribution at a Jain templenear my home. Later, I got to know about khaanachahiye through a friend. Theywere operating at a much larger scale. But it was a tough decision because Ihad to commute daily from my home in Thane to Bandra on my bike during thelockdown. Many people discouraged me since they thought that I was puttingmyself at risk. Even my Mom was worried. But something made me persist.

My wish was to deliver food myself, but khaanachahiye doesn’tmake deliveries on the bike. So I took up the job of managing their dispatchcenter in Bandra, where I coordinate deliveries from kitchens, packing, andloading for dispatch.

Enabling dispatch of ~9000 meals a day from one center was nojoke. But I knew that it was all about planning. If you plan well in advance,then you can make sure that the food reaches people on time. Planning alsohelps in tackling new challenges. For instance, from 25th April, without anyglitches, almost overnight, we started an evening shift for delivery ofnon-perishables and fruits for people fasting during Ramadan.

And you know what the best part is? This work is full of sweetsurprises. Technically I didn’t have the opportunity to deliver food to peopledirectly. Yet, I distribute food with my own hands to close to fifty securityguards and daily wage workers who live around the dispatch center. They beganvisiting us after chancing upon our center. Just like that!

And oh! The smile on their faces when I hand them over hot,freshly cooked meals - Priceless!

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Khaana Chahiye Foundation traces its origins to a citizen-led food-relief effort during Mumbai's Covid-19 lockdown, evolving into one of the city's largest crisis management initiatives. Today, it persists in its mission to combat hunger through various relief and advocacy efforts.

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