Published: 01st June 2021
These home chefs are serving people food as they recover from COVID-19 or are stuck at home
KK Nagar resident Harshni says, she came up with the idea to cook a little extra and feed a few people. She posted about it on Instagram three weeks ago
The past year has brought out the cook in a lot of us. While some of us stuck to the bittersweet Dalgona Coffee, Harshni Sreedhar and 90 other home chefs are feeding the helpless in Chennai. Called Meals for Madras, this effort that started with Harshni's love for cooking and effort to help as many people as she can, has now grown into a full-fledged operation. So much so that they have a web app now. They are delivering to COVID positive patients and families quarantined at home and for whom cooking is a hassle, like the elderly.
KK Nagar resident Harshni says that she came up with the idea to cook a little extra and feed a few people. She posted about it on Instagram three weeks ago. "My friend Deepthi, who stays on the other end of the town near ECR, also showed some interest and before we knew it had already involved 12 people by that evening. We were doing it in an ad-hoc manner for the first day but then by the end of Day 2 we were 20 people. We immediately decided to streamline the process and brought in Sreenidhi who helped build a directory on Glide. people can come and look for cooks within their area," says Harshni. "The cooks have no contact wth the person the food is being delivered to. We handle the coordination at the backend and use delivery services like Dunzo and Swiggy (Genie) to deliver the order. We have a lot of senior citizen helping as well. They ask for help with the tech part and we happily oblige," she adds.
The cooks do not have to go out of their way but cook a little extra of what they were cooking anyway. But that's not all. Meals for Madras is also helping daily wage earners and workers who do not have access to such sophisticated tech. They have partnered with an NGO called Trash Troopers, who are helping them distribute food to workers and daily wage earners who find it hard to even procure two meals a day in these tough times.
They have also raised around Rs 13 lakh through impactguru.com for this part of their initiative and Harshni believes that this amount would help them make one meal a day for more than a month for these 150 odd people. But more funds are coming in and they want to expand their reach as well. "We have been told that there are more than 290 people whom we can help. We are trying to expand our reach and the donations are also pouring in. Impactguru had reached out to us and asked if we were raising funds for our initiative and they have been fabulous with their support ever since," says Harshni. "We have contracted a caterer for making these 150 meals and the Trash Troopers distribute them. We are also trying to help some of our home cooks who have lost their livelihood by buying some groceries for them," she adds.