Gujarat: Civil society in Ahmedabad takes initiative to bring food to the needy

Vaibhav Jha
ahmedabad tenants food, ahmedabad ngos, ahmedabad coronavirus, indian express news

Tuteja is one among over 500 independent volunteers in Ahmedabad who have come forward to don the roles of cooks and delivery boys (Express Photo by Vaibhav Jha)

AFTER MUCH deliberation over the state of affairs in Ahmedabad regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 29-year-old Sunny Tuteja -- a resident of South Bopal -- took to Facebook and posted on popular group 'Ahmedabad Flat and Flatmates' on March 23. Tuteja's post highlighted that he had come across several accounts of young people, living by themselves in paying guest accommodations or flats, who have been facing food shortage due to the national lockdown.

Offering to help them, Tuteja listed his phone number and stated, "I cannot assure what I can prepare for you but it will surely be vegetarian, hygienic and pure (sic)."

Tuteja's post went viral on Facebook and in a few hours' time, he received over a 100 calls from individuals in need, NGOs and restaurants. According to Tuteja, he has prepared food for at least 8-10 persons on a daily basis in the past four days.

Tuteja is one among over 500 independent volunteers in Ahmedabad who have come forward to don the roles of cooks and delivery boys, and are providing home cooked food to college students and senior citizens.

An assistant manager at a multinational firm, Tuteja has been working from home between 10 am to 6 pm. He prepares the meals in his breaks and is helped by his mother. "I am not a part of any NGO...Whatever I cook for myself, I ensure that I cook extra depending on the demands I receive. I can only provide my services in South Bopal. Due to the lockdown, the concerned person has to come to my society's gate and pick up the food. Today, I cooked dal chawal for an elderly couple and two of their helpers," said Tuteja.

Among the NGOs that approached Tuteja is Chandani Foundation, an organisation which claims to have a network of 450 volunteers in Ahmedabad. The NGO suggested connecting their delivery boys with Tuteja so that he may continue cooking food for the needy across the city.

"We started seeking help from people on social media from March 19, sensing that a lockdown was imminent. The response we received was amazing! Hundreds of volunteers including young men, homemakers and senior citizens pitched in to help us. Between March 19 and March 26, we have served over 10,000 meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- in areas such as Odhav, Makarba, Hebatpur, Thaltej, Vasna and Paldi. Our idea is simple: Whoever is cooking at home can also cook a little extra. Our delivery boys can pick up the order and deliver it to the needy. For senior citizens, we have a door delivery system while for the rest, we leave the food with the concerned society's security guards," said Chandani Nebhnani (34), founder of the NGO.

The city is also witnessing the emergence of independent citizen groups to help daily wage labourers and the homeless in these times of crisis. One such group from Motera namely 'Jan Kalyan Yuva Sangathan' is distributing up to 200 sets of food commodities on a daily basis in surrounding areas. "In our food kit, we keep two kg wheat, half kg pulses, biscuits, vegetable oil and spices for the needy to sustain in these times," said Rahul Trivedi, a resident of Motera.