Based on the concept of the popular Seva Café where volunteers come together in various cities to cook and serve a meal with love for one and all, the city has got its own bunch of volunteers who are willing to show their love and hospitality as well as share precious moments with the most deprived communities like orphans, old age home residents, physically and mentally challenged children and adults, economically challenged farmers and many others. Café with Care, cooked their first meal in July 2016 for physically and mentally challenged kids from Sri Arunodhayam Charitable Trust, Kolathur. Since then they have served myriad communities and currently has about 370 volunteers.
“Our first experience was memorable. We weren’t sure of the response we could get from these special kids. We prepared a healthy and tasty menu for our guests with utmost care and attention. While few volunteers cut, cleaned the vegetables and cooked; few engaged in decorating the venue with flowers and colours and others were busy inviting these kids to play and spend time with them. Many of dishes were cooked by volunteers who had never done any kitchen work before. Most of them didn’t even know how to cut the vegetables properly, which spice to use and how to properly mix ingredients. Yet everybody ensured that the food contains unlimited love and affections for guests. Being self-motivated, lunch was ready on time and then we invited our special guests to the dining hall,” says Sumithra S, one of the volunteers of Café with Care.
The group believes in ‘No food wastage’ and hence care is taken on the quantity and quality of food cooked and served. “This is one reason why we visit our guest well before we plan our event just to collect data on their preferred menu choice and strength of guests. We also avoid usage of plastic and segregate food waste into degradable, which is used for vermicomposting. We also serve food on banana leaves or eco-friendly recyclable plates and cups,” she adds.
Talking about the volunteer base and planning of events, Sumithra adds, “Our volunteer base is huge and it keeps increasing after every successful event. We reach out to volunteers through word-of-mouth and social media. Volunteers and sponsors contribute for buying the grocery and ingredients. Once we decide on menu, groceries are worked out based on availability and cost factor. Since we mostly use vegetables from local community and food grains that are easily available; we function on a reasonable budget. We reach out to sponsors with the menu, information on event, venue and date along with the list of groceries needed for cooking through social media predominantly. Sponsors can donate groceries either as materials or funds based on their convenience.” They did their last cooking event for 300 poor farmers from Pandeeswaram village near Avadi on January 22, 2017.
In the future they intend to promote the message of sharing and caring among the younger generation and involve kids in their activities. “Volunteering is not about giving what the needy wants, but by sharing and serving what we have with those who deserve better things in life. There is lack of awareness about this in the younger generation and at Café with Care we are planning to promote this message among kids by involving them as volunteers in future,” concludes Sumithra.
You can reach out to them for more information on www.facebook.com/Cafe withcare/ or write an email to cafewith email@example.com