A brand new board in Vashi Sector XI reads ‘Khichdi Ghar Saturday 11 am’, announcing the hour of a weekly treat given to those in the area who cannot afford nutritious meals throughout the week.
Kalpana Baniya (standing), who receives vocational training at TKF, is part of the group of women who cook and serve the free meals
The long winding queues that have started forming at the designated hour every weekend attest to the popularity of this unique kitchen that aims to provide at least one good meal a week to anyone visiting the community centre at the hour.
The board that announces the timing and day of the weekly meal
The initiative was kickstarted a month ago, by a group of underprivileged but empowered women who receive vocational training at an NGO called The Kanchan Foundation (TKF). The trainees spotted some kids digging in the trash nearby, looking for food.
Kanchan Todi Roy, trustee of TKF, said, “We invited these kids to our centre and gave them some food. The women at my vocational centre asked if they could feed famished people in the area at least once a week. I thought it was a great idea.
From the next week, we started seeing more such workers, street dwellers outside our centre, hoping for some food. We decided to put up a board so that the people know exactly at what time to come in order to have their fill.”
The turnout was so huge last Saturday, that the women had to cook twice. Kalpana Baniya, from Juhu Gaon in Vashi, who cooks the meals, said, “It gives us great joy to prepare food and serve them. We understand their need to eat something that is wholesome and hygienic.
Many of them cannot afford nutritious meals, and perhaps that is why the numbers are increasing every week.” There is more help on the way. The NGO recently received an enquiry from one of the local residents, who is interested in being a sponsor of the meal that will be served this Saturday.
On the menu
Week 1: Idli Chutney
Week 2: Khichdi
Week 3: Upma
Week 4: Sambar Vada
The average cost of feeding one person
Empowered women give back in kind
At TKF, a vocational centre in Vashi, women in need are trained in certain skills so that they can earn their own livelihood. These women have been cooking the meals for those who queue up outside the centre every Saturday. Those who come seeking food include street dwellers, kids from nearby municipal schools and construction workers.
>> The kitchen opens its doors at 11 am every Saturday
>> Queues of hungry labourers, kids, homeless people form outside the building
>> Help has started pouring in from generous locals in the form of sponsorship