Chennai’s hospitality honchos will cater 1 lakh meals on I-Day
From pongal made in the kitchens of Park Hyatt Chennai to Dindigal-style biryani from Thalappakatti — that’s a taster of what the city’s underprivileged are going to be served on August 15. Several big players in hospitality have come forward, from luxury hotels like the ITC Grand Chola to franchises like Cream Centre and Tibbs Frankie — all donating anywhere between 500 to 5,000 meals — as a part of the Robin Hood Army, Chennai Chapter’s Independence Day initiative to feed one lakh meals to the city’s homeless. Rest assured, breakfast after the flag hoisting will be an affair of epic proportions this Independence Day.
Believe it or not, the project gets bigger. This is only a part of the efforts of the volunteer-based Robin Hood Army, whose goal is to hit a million meals across India and Pakistan on I-Day, spreading the word through the viral #Mission1Million campaign and volunteers. Bhisham Sahi, an advertising professional who manages the Chennai Chapter of the organisation, says plans are underway to cover hotspots for the homeless like Marina Beach, North Madras and areas around the Egmore station. “So far we have 19 restaurants and hotels on board donating food and the number is increasing as we move closer to the date,” says the 26-year-old.
Apart from the aforementioned names, the list includes crowd-sourced meals from restaurants like Deccan Plaza, Novelty Tea House, Grillz and Kaidi Kitchen as well as from school students and members of the Round Table pan-India. The pick-and-drop logistics will be covered with help from delivery boys of the app Dinein, as well as volunteers and their families. But amidst all the hustle that goes into putting together an initiative as massive as this one, we have to wonder out loud just how sustainable can such efforts be in the long run? “I don’t know about sustainability, but this is a good first step to understand what the challenges are in the fight against hunger. And everything starts with some audacious dream right?” points out Sandesh Reddy of Sandy’s Chocolate Laboratory and the Old Madras Baking Company, who is lending both his kitchens to the project with 6,000 meals.
The man who seems to have all the answers, however, is food mogul M Mahadevan of Oriental Cuisines, who will provide a heartstopping 10,000 meals on the day. “To give as an individual, you must first have,” he says simply, elaborating,“Profit is not a bad word.” As for how restaurants can better streamline excess food from banquets and weddings, his suggestions are two-fold: “Tie up with an NGO and invest in cold storage”. He follows this up with the importance of a food laboratory, adding, “Routine checks on food that has been stored are crucial to combat hygiene risks and food poisoning.” At the end of the day, feeding people goes far beyond charity, says Mahadevan, “It’s a responsibility.”
To volunteer, contact 9094104191or log on to robinhoodarmy.com