Published: 13th April 2020
Bhubaneswar Round Table Kitchen is collaborating with NGOs to help mitigate hunger across Odisha
Round Table India Kitchen is a pan-India model which the Bhubaneswar chapter is following as well. With the help of it, they have provided meals to over 3,500 helpless and hapless people in Odisha
Indeed, these are extraordinary times that we are going through. Coronavirus has us by our necks. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures like joining forces to mitigate hunger amidst lockdown. This extraordinary measure was taken up by Bhubaneswar Round Table 53, part of the massive not-profit Round Table organisation established to promote service. They collaborated with Hunger Free Odisha in Puri and Cuttack Round Table 137 in Cuttack to set up Round Table India Kitchen, they have even set up a kitchen in Bhubaneswar on their own. With the combined effort of all these kitchens, as of April 10, they provided meals to over 3,500 needy. And they are planning to ramp up the operations to greater numbers in the coming days, especially now that Odisha was one of the first states to announce an extension of the lockdown.
Distributing food | (Pic: Bhubaneswar Round Table 53)
All that they do
Kabir Taneja, Fundraising Convener and Immediate Past Chairman, informs that their efforts are more far-ranging than the kitchens. As a chapter, they are also distributing 1,000 kgs of food every day to animal shelters, which is then fed to the animals living in the shelter and strays too. They are also providing 200 food packets to The Robin Hood Army, the organisation that takes surplus food to provide to the needy and upon request, they are ready to provide as many as 1,000 packets.
Getting back to talking about the kitchens, Kabir tells us that, "The food prepared in the kitchens are for migrant workers, those who are Below Poverty Line and those who are not able to avail the government's schemes." On one hand, he praises the Government of Odisha for all its efforts to not just contain, but also reach out to daily wage workers and on the other, he recognises the fact that the segment of migrant workers is a disorganised space for any government to keep track of. This is where they step in to do their bit. Every morning, their trucks start at 5 am to either purchase fruits and vegetables to pick them up from different homes who are ready to donate or common pick up points in the city, where people can drop off donations. The trucks then take it to the kitchen where cooks, equipped with gloves and face masks, cook a well-balanced meal of dal, chawal, one vegetable sabji which is served with fruits. In some areas, the food is served and people can have seconds as well while in others, it is packed and distributed. "We started by serving 500 meals and today, we serve over 3,500. We plan to increase our numbers," he informs. He also informs us that they are in overdrive mode when it comes to fundraising.
The poster | (Pic: Bhubaneswar Round Table 53)
What's up next?
The plan they are executing next is that of distributing 1,000 hand-made cloth masks that they have acquired through partners. They are even offering to check-in on and deliver groceries to the elderly and parents of those children who are not in the same city and often worry about the former. These masks are not for health workers, but basic, precautionary ones for the general public. Indeed, collaboration is the way forward. "Instead of trying to find strengths in numbers, we are trying to find strength in unity," reasons Kabir. Even during Cyclone Phani, the cyclone that wreaked havoc in May 2019, Bhubaneswar Round Table 53 had carried out various relief measures and helped in great numbers. But this time, they realised that they can't adopt the same methods. "This time, the solution is simple, the food needs to be delivered to the right places. Hence, we are finding common ground with other non-profit and charitable organisations like us and collaborating with them." Is collaborating messy and cumbersome, we wonder? "Coordination is just for one day, the rest of the days is just repetition," he reasons.
Round Table India, as a whole, have offered meals to over seven lakh people through their Round Table India Kitchen model.