Published: 29th June 2021
Here's how these Chennaiites served over 30K meals to the needy around the city during lockdown
The team raised funds through Google Pay and with the help of their social media platforms to raise money to cook and serve meals to the underprivileged around the city
When most of India was under lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic, not just frontline workers but citizens stepped up to help each other in this time of need. That is when a bunch of Chennaiites came together under the banner Let's Unite Charity to raise money to cook and serve meals to the underprivileged around the city.
Started in May, the idea was born when Aasin Shah, the owner of Kebapci, a restaurant on Khader Nawaz Khan Road, decided to use his kitchen and his staff, who were otherwise sitting idle as dine-ins had been completely shut across Chennai during the lockdown. He then discussed the idea of preparing food for the needy with his friend Muhammed Hussain, who is an interior designer by profession. "We got on a call and discussed how we could work things out and use the kitchen space to do something for the society. We had already observed the scarcity of food and basic meals during complete shutdowns last year. We knew things wouldn't have gotten better this time either, the needy will not have access to food. Initially, we began by making 200 food packets. We had our own staff volunteering in the areas nearby to provide the food to people around. When we began doing this, we realised the massive level of scarcity and the need for food and water. And we knew we needed to raise funds and get more help to scale it up," Muhammed tells us.
A healthcare worker holding food
The team raised funds through Google Pay and with the help of their social media platforms, which received quite an overwhelming response, adds Muhammed. "We didn't have a specific donation amount and we did that thinking of students who would wish to contribute. We calculated the ration cost for a single meal, which is typically a biriyani and a water bottle. We finally decided on Rs 20 for each packet. So, people who wished to contribute more could do so, others who wished to give just Rs 100 were also contributing for at least five meals," he says.
A lot of youngsters signed up to volunteer for the cause and the team used all their staff just to prepare food. On average, the team served 800 packets per day throughout the lockdown. "We even took requests from our volunteers and so the food packet numbers also kept increasing. We were serving until last Monday, so far in Chennai, we have given over 32,000 food packets. We also followed the same model in Bengaluru and in total we provided over 50,000 packets," adds Muhammed.
Now, the team is planning to provide dry ration kits that would last for at least a month to the people in need. "People have lost their livelihoods, jobs, and so we decided to provide them with the basic necessity of food until they are able to stand up on their own feet again," he concludes.