Here’s how four Kolkata youngsters used their quarantine to fund mid-day meals for children

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Personalised cards made for Paint A Meal
Personalised cards made for Paint A Meal

Gen-Z has been a step ahead in manoeuvring their way around this unpredictable year, be it with DIY self-care tutorials, virtual social clubs or something handier. Vidula Agarwal, along with her friends Aadya Bhartia, Saumya Bhartia and Vidhishree Agarwal have worked together on a series of stay-at-home pop-ups and virtual art room and market that brings homegrown labels under one platform to fund mid-day meals to children from welfare schools. “We are providing mid-day meals to NGOs which take care of underprivileged kids. The NGO-run schools shut down amid the lockdown obviously, so we are attempting to feed them nevertheless via creative means,” Vidula tells us. 

Lehar For Change or Paint A Meal is hosting several virtual pop-up style exhibits where they showcase products from local lifestyle, food and wellness labels. You can DM their Instagram page for catalogues before you make a purchase and all the proceeds collected will go to charity, specifically towards the mid-day meal initiative. “We started out on a small scale, with handmade cards and after a point we realized that people have stopped buying cards as much as they used to. So we shifted to food pop-ups with a line of home-made desserts and savouries, everything was made at the homes of two of our founders. We started getting a lot of requests from people who wanted to contribute food, and then we ventured into the lifestyle spectrum since everyone was so keen to help out,” Vidula shares. 

A food pop-up by Lehar for Change
A food pop-up by Lehar for Change

The concept behind Paint A Meal is not just functional but also involves a multi-pronged approach. It basically outlines newer ways to maximise the convenience of the virtual market space. “It was quite organic and random, the way it happened, since we’re studying in the US (I’m studying finance in New York University), we were all in Kolkata since colleges stopped hosting classes and moved online. We basically wanted to do something with our time that would help people out,” Vidula remarks. 

For their September pop-up, for instance, the initiative brought together a local home kitchen called The Baker’s Box, lifestyle label Pottery By Aanupamaa G Jalan, creative labels like Letters By Ame and Art Room which offered everything from personalised lettering artwork, calligraphy services, online workshop, curated art parties and a lot more. Vidula’s last initiative Piece By Piece was also anchored by a practical, ingenious solution to help those in need. “We collected unused fabrics and scraps and we collaborated with an NGO which provides vocational courses to women and they stitched the pieces as part of their training,” we are told. 

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