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Not just outbreak, this is forever: Let's Feed Mumbai co-founder

Updated on: 02 October,2020 06:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Not just outbreak, this is forever: Let's Feed Mumbai co-founder

(From left) Anil Shetty, Zaki Navrekar, Collin D'Souza, Theresa Correia, Anita Shetty, Hema Ingle, Pushpa Bhatt, John Correia of Let's Feed Mumbai/ Pics/ Sameer Markande

As the national anthem pealed across the city, and the tricolour fluttered in the January 26 wind, some 15 like-minded citizens came together to form the outfit, Let's Feed Mumbai. Their cause was to provide one square meal to the needy every single day.

One meal

"We began providing one afternoon meal on Republic Day, and we have not stopped since," said Anita Shetty of Let's Feed Mumbai. The group whose philosophy is 'annadaan is the greatest daan' started their initiative at Holy Cross Chowk at Premier Road in Kurla West, "And we are still there, months down the road," said Anita with a hint of pride. "Most of us live in Kurla, so we know the area best. We thought why not begin from home, literally?" said Anita.

Genuine cause

Let's Feed Mumbai, began with donations from the founders itself. "As people witnessed the genuineness of our effort, donations from outsiders also came in," they said. Anil Shetty, one of the founders said, "We have had people giving us money to sponsor a day's meal, which is roughly Rs 2,500. They do so to mark occasions like anniversaries or birthdays, or in the name of a departed, loved one. Some, sponsor meals, for a month." The founder duo, Anil and Anita added, "We were so touched. We even got Rs 20 from a little child once!"

Changing form

The founders said, "Initially we used to actually serve a full meal to people and they would sit down and eat. The food is made in a big kitchen elsewhere. It was a complete meal — usually biryani or pulao or khichdi with accompaniments. Barely two months into our endeavour, there was a lockdown. We now give parcels like takeaways with a banana too, as it aids in digestion."

Let’s Feed Mumbai during the distribution of a meal in Kurla.
Let's Feed Mumbai during the distribution of a meal in Kurla.

Anil said, "Earlier, we had about 50 people, which became 100 as the word spread. During the early months of lockdown, before the migrants left for their villages, the crowd swelled to 250. Now, we are back to a little over 100. We have rickshaw owners who cannot pay EMIs on their vehicles in these tough times. By getting one meal free, they save a little money towards their loan. There are ragpickers. We receive blessings from the hungry and blessings that come from the stomach, are the best blessings of all."

Let's Feed Mumbai's Collin D'Souza said, "Our target was to feed 25,000 people in 365 days, but the seed sown on Republic Day has grown into a plant and now a tree in seven months. On September 30, we have distributed 26,131 meals, way beyond our target. I see several new faces in the queues nowadays, when we think this person can afford his meal, we take him aside and say that you can afford it. Why deprive somebody who cannot? They usually understand. Some masked persons even try to come in twice in the line, as identifying is difficult with face covers but we are alert and call them out. Besides these few hiccups, we are planning to continue this as long as we can. It is not about feeding during the outbreak, but forever."

Let's Feed Mumbai added as a sign off that the light in the hungry-no-more eyes illuminates their life, and they aim to touch 38,000 meals by January next year.

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