It’s 4.30 in the morning. Seventy-five-year-old Meena Pinto wakes up, for there’s a lot of work ahead. She goes over to keep an eye on the cooking in progress, to make sure everything is progressing smoothly. Pinto can be then seen peeling boiled eggs, so they are ready to be picked up and loaded onto a car that arrives shortly after.

“I have been doing this all my life. It’s been 15 years for me in the food trade. And there is immense satisfaction when one serves those who are needy.”

Cooking for a cause: Prem Angel (below) prepares food in her kitchen to be served to underprivileged people, mostly residing on footpaths. Pics/Mohan Patil 

For the last year and a half, eight to ten residents from NIBM Road and Wanawadi have taken it upon themselves to feed the homeless. They serve people breakfast every Tuesday, and lunch on Fridays.

Leaving a high-salaried job, Prem Angel, a resident of Clover Village, started this initiative. Giving more details of ‘Meals on Wheels’ (MoW), she said, “This project commenced on December 11, 2013, where five people congregated to serve people who cannot afford a single meal a day. I worked with Kuwait Airways for a long time and had a good life.

So, one day I decided to quit and contribute something to society. These people give us feedback about the food – whether it’s too spicy or has too little salt. This helps us improve.”

“Feeding people was the first thing I decided to do when I came to Pune. I made up my mind to take up the cause to help the poor and needy. I met a lot of people who came forward to help me and that is how the journey of MoW began,” Angel added.

Keshuv Advani, an eighty-year-old resident of Parmar Garden, said, “It is a satisfying endeavour for all of us. We all meet and decide who will cook the food in a particular week, and contribute money towards the initiative. This makes our work even simpler.”

Another member, Nandini Bhattacharjee, who’s a housewife, shared, “Initially, I was not open to the idea of handing over my kitchen. But, slowly I got over my apprehensions, as I worked with the group, and these days they cook in my kitchen.

I am happier in this phase.” The group has a corpus of funds, and each member contributes some money every month. Then they buy foodgrains in bulk. This saves some money, which is utilised in purchasing fruits, and eggs, which they also serve.