CHENNAI: Swipe right and guess the names of all the green vegetables’. This seemingly unassuming caption on Atithi Khana, a five-year-old home-cooked food aggregator’s Instagram page has now turned into an active social initiative to feed those in need. How? Thanks to a customer’s thoughtful suggestion, says founder Aasish Nahar. “We primarily work with individual kitchens and caterers to deliver home-cooked food. When the lockdown was announced and travel restrictions were in place, we had to temporarily shut shop.
When we resumed operations on May 4 after a prolonged lockdown, we observed that people were still hesitant to order food because of safety concerns. So as part of our customer engagement, we shared a post on Instagram, wherein the followers had to guess the names of a few vegetables. If they got it right, they would get a free meal from Atithi Khana. When the responses started coming in, one response caught our attention. The customer, Madhan, said, ‘If I get all the responses right, donate my meal to someone in need.’ That response hit me hard and soon, as a team, we decided to take this idea and turn it into something for the better good,” he recounts.
On May 8, the RA Puram-based company flagged a social campaign ‘Go Green’, to distribute fresh home-cooked food for the homeless. “As a company, our operations extend till Mylapore, Kotturpuram and Nandanam. So, our idea was to distribute food to the needy in localities that fall under these areas within the time allotted by the government. Since the idea for such an initiative stemmed from a customer’s suggestion, we wanted to engage other customers too and get them involved in the cause as well. So, a similar post was put up and every right response started turning into a meal for the homeless. This way, those who felt they couldn’t step out to help or contribute in cash could still be a part of a goodwill initiative,” he says.
Over the last 10-odd days, customers, followers and good Samaritans have also come forward to lend a helping hand to the company by offering assistance in food distribution and by contributing money to fuel the initiative. Some have even visited their distribution drive to be part of it. So far, Atithi Khana has reached out and helped over 1,400 people. “We cook food for around 200-250 per day. The food is distributed by our delivery executives. We have been taking extreme precautions to ensure safety — our delivery executives wear gloves, masks and regularly sanitise themselves.
We use the GPS to navigate and avoid travelling through/entering containment zones. In the food production side, cooked and uncooked food are always kept separately to avoid any cross contamination. The packaging is done in a separate area too. To render our services to those who are in need has been an incredible experience. The kind words from those who’ve been fed have touched our hearts and we want to continue serving them till the lockdown is lifted,” he says.
The corona scare and the consequent dip in business hasn’t crumbled Aasish’s spirit. He says the company will spring back soon and that his current focus is on helping those who are most affected. So far, Atithi Khana has reached out and helped over 1,400 people.
For details, visit Instagram page @atithikhana to contribute, visit www.instamojo.com/@atithikhana