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These home chefs serve healthy food for those in need
Last week, Harshni Sreedhar shared a post on Instagram about sending food to those who are affected due to COVID-19 or by the lockdown. One of her friends Deepthi expressed interest in joining her. The duo thought of covering most parts of Chennai but didn’t realise that the demand will increase slowly.
“A few people shared my post on social media and we started getting more orders. We are serving almost 60 meals per day for lunch and dinner; in very rare cases, some ask for breakfast. I get orders mainly from senior citizens whose children are not in town and from families who are quarantined at home and unable to cook. I usually send out whatever I cook at home — for lunch, it is mostly south Indian meals that include one kuzhambu, rasam, one or two veggies and for dinner, I have delivered dosa, rotis, and khichdi. The idea is to send out comfort food,” says Harshni.
When the COVID-19 broke out last year, entrepreneur Deepthi Tanikella and her family cooked meals and distributed them to the needy on road. “It is important to give back to society. If you are privileged and can cook, then without any hesitation, you can also join the army of home chefs who have joined the cause. I have been delivering homecooked food for the past few days and my policy is not to turn down any request. Usually, I send out lunch by 12.30 but yesterday one lady rang me up at 12.45 asking for food. But I managed to send her food. My family has been very supportive and encouraging — my mother and mother-in-law also join me in cooking,” says Deepthi.
If the food is being delivered to a COVID-19 patient’s house, she alerts the delivery executive about it because they don’t know to whom they are delivering. “So, if I tell them that it is a COVID-19 patient’s house, the delivery executive can maintain social distancing and make sure that there is no interaction. I send out whatever food I make at home but sometimes, I get special requests from people. Once, the daughter of an elderly couple to whom I was sending food reached out to me saying their doctor specifically asked her parents to eat a lot of veggies, curd, garlic, broccoli and mushrooms. I bought all these veggies and started sending salad along with the meals. Some people send me their medical reports but I tell them that I am not a dietician and offer to cook them healthy meals.” she smiles.
When asked if she has faced any challenges so far, Deepthi says, “I cannot call it as challenges but at times, some assume that we are running a huge food catering business and start asking questions like what kind of food we prepare, and to share the menu. In such cases, I make them understand the service we offer,” she adds.
Poongodi A is another home cook from Chennai who is sending out food to those in need. Her daughter Priya Alagarraj, who is working as a consultant, coordinates the service. “We take up orders daily for lunch and dinner. My mother prepares some extra nutritious meals for those quarantining at home. We are also accepting donations — if anybody is willing to donate, they can send the money and we will be directing it to several covid relief initiatives happening in the country. The responses from people have been overwhelming. Also, my family has been very supportive of this. We hope to prepare more meals and share them in the coming days,” says Priya.