Chef Vikas Khanna organising food distribution drive for Mumbai's Dabbawalas, widows in Vrindavan

Updated: 22 June, 2020 12:34 IST | PTI | Mumbai

The precision of Mumbai's famed Dabbawalas in distributing food to hundreds of thousands of people daily in the metropolis became a case study at Harvard

Vikas Khanna
Vikas Khanna

Michelin-star chef Vikas Khanna is organising a massive food distribution drive this week to provide meals and essential supplies to thousands of Dabbawalas in Mumbai as well as widows in Vrindavan facing hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 48-year-old world-renowned chef, author and film-maker is coordinating to deliver more than 1.4 million meals, including dry ration, juices and essential cleaning supplies for over 5,000 families of Dabbawalas and television support staff such as spot boys in Mumbai during the distribution drive called "Utsav".

The precision of Mumbai's famed Dabbawalas in distributing food to hundreds of thousands of people daily in the metropolis became a case study at Harvard. Moved by their plight as the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown in India has adversely impacted their work, Khanna said he is working to ensure that enough dry ration meals, vegetables and essential cleaning supplies are delivered to them as well as to those working as TV support staff 'so that they don't have to leave their homes for anything' for the next few weeks. Khanna is also coordinating distribution of 500,000 meals and essential medical supplements and herbal drinks for widows in Vrindavan, a place Khanna says has a special meaning for him in his journey to becoming the Michelin-star chef. Showing solidarity for the widows of Vrindavan on the occasion of International Widows Day, marked on June 23, Khanna along with sanitation organisation Sulabh International, will organise the food drive titled "Rang". Under this initiative, meals and other essential items will be distributed to seven ashrams in Vridavan, "enough to take care of the widows for a few months,' Khanna told PTI here.

Another food distribution drive "Kashi" is aimed to benefit families of boatmen and craftsmen in Varanasi. Since the coronavirus pandemic gripped India, unleashing economic hardships for millions as the nationwide lockdown was implemented in March, Khanna has coordinated massive food distribution drives from his home in Manhattan. Over the course of nearly 80 days, Khanna has distributed 14 million meals in orphanages, old-age homes, leprosy centres, widow ashrams as well as to migrant workers and hundreds of thousands of people in need across 125 Indian cities with the help of The National Disaster Response Force. Nearly 47 leading brands have partnered with Khanna in his initiative, under which over two million sanitary pads and 128,000 slippers have also been distributed. Last month, Khanna had organised one of the largest feasts in Mumbai on the occasion of Eid, mobilising efforts to feed nearly 1.75 lakh people in the city amid the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. 'My hope is solidarity. Solidarity is everything. We can beat corona and we should all be united to figure out how to defeat this virus,' Khanna had said. India on Monday added 14,821 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the infection tally to 4,25,282, while the death toll rose to 13,699 with 445 new fatalities.

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First Published: 22 June, 2020 11:33 IST

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