Food Ninjas Are Braving All Odds To Feed 70,000+ People Every Day In Mumbai Amid Covid-19 Lockdown

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Lockdown 2.0. While a lot of us have hung our heads and gone back into our comfortable homes, there are people staring at hunger and desperation. But like they say, every crisis gives birth to a fleet of unsung heroes whose contribution towards humanity cannot be quantified. In an audacious attempt to measure the magnitude of impact that the food ninjas (volunteers who distribute food) of Mumbai Project have scaled, it would be no exaggeration to say that their contribution redefines the idea of humanity. #KhanaChahiye, a project that was started on March 29 th, today feeds 70,000+ people in Mumbai. 

You too can feed people by donating to Khaana Chahiye at : www.bit.ly/1lakhmeals

In an exclusive conversation with Efforts For Good, the food ninjas take us through how their day looks and let’s just say, wow! 

Sneak Peek into a food ninja’s day! 

Starting with Sapna Bhavnani, who is also endearingly called the packaging ninja by her team said, “We start at about 10 AM. We have 10 handis of Khichris and we package about 1600 packs of food in two hours which is quite a decent number for a small team one like us.” Latha Sankarnarayan who is also a volunteer for food distribution says, “We distribute over 2000 meals everyday only on link road. There are a number of other such lanes. Despite running the campaign on such a massive scale, the demand still increases by 200 to 300 people on a daily basis.” 


Where does all this courage come from?

Evaluating logistics is one part, but working up the courage to expose oneself to the contamination to be able to serve others in need is a whole different ball game. Talking of the inspiration to go for it and go for it everyday, Saumil Bharani, who is an accountant of regular days says in simple words, “I wanted to make my lockdown time meaningful.”

But how do you follow the social distancing guidelines? 

Sujata Sawant says, “Khana Chahiye initiative has put in place certain protocols for all the volunteers who go on food distribution. Besides, it is imperative for each one of us to wear masks and a face shield over it.” Additionally, the food ninjas maintain a prescribed distance for people and constantly educate the beneficiaries about the importance of Social Distancing. 

What are the other challenges?

At times, due to lack of awareness among the communities, people do take offence when asked to maintain distance. “I think it’s very important for us to be sensitive so that they don’t feel that we do not want to ‘touch them’. We try to be as polite as possible.”, adds Sujata. On the other hand, Sheldon who has been proactively volunteering continues, “We have to very humbly educate them by telling them that it may be them at risk from us.” Additionally, Shahid Rakhangi says, “Besides everything, it becomes emotionally difficult because when we go to the communities with a certain amount of food, there is always need for more and that is what hurts.” 

Is there never any fear of coming back and contaminating your families?

Despite all safety gears and preventive measures, it is natural to feel insecure about contaminating your loved ones after coming back home. Some of these food ninjas live with their old parents while some with their small children. The emotional toll that it takes to step out of the house is commendable. Sheldon Pinto has a one year old kid while Sufiyan Sheikh lives with a seven month pregnant wife. Sheldon says, “Despite following all necessary protocols before entering the house, even if I sneeze a little, that fear is still there.” 

What can citizens do to contribute?

Khana Chaiye together with Efforts For Good and The Logical Indian Community have been raising funds to keep the mission going! Together, we have already been able to support more than 88,000 meals  by raising Rs.22,00,000 out of Rs. 50,00,000.But there is still a long way to go and with everyone coming together, this citizen driven initiative can work wonders to help the daily wagers keep their heads above the water in these times of crisis. 

Efforts For Good appreciates the tremendous work done by Khana Chahiye and lauds the food ninjas for their selflessness and immense courage!


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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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