My Story: I Am A Zomato Delivery Guy Who Gives Cancelled Orders To Street Kids & Runs Free Evening School For Them

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“Four years ago, I was crossing the streets near Dumdum Cantonment in Kolkata when a dishevelled teenager boy came running and fell at my feet. He started begging desperately for money. I thought that he was heavily drug-addicted and wanted money to waste on cheap, harmful drugs. I tried to dissuade him, but his desperation was so wild and pathetic that I slapped him and he broke down. That’s where my story begins. And it has a delicious, fulfilling ending with happy bellies and unadulterated smiles.

To the rest of Kolkata, I am a food delivery guy with Zomato. But to a group of budding youngsters in Dumdum Cantonment and across Bengal, I am an elder brother they can always confide in.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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Emergency funds sent to 250 families

The story dates back four years

Four years ago, after slapping the boy, I had comforted him, and he opened up to me. He vented that he was not drug-addicted but that his mother forces him to bring money by begging. He said if he goes home without any money at the end of the day, his mother will kill him. When the boy got down with dengue a while later, and the hospital asked for his personal details, his mother could not even properly remember his father’s name, who has deserted them probably before his birth.

This boy was not the only one with a similar life story. I found out numerous other homeless kids around the same railway station have a dark past and an even darker future ahead of them. None of them had ever stepped inside a school. The older ones were into drug abuse, begging and even petty criminal activities, while the younger ones would just play and laze around all day, soon to grow up and join their predecessors.

Soon, I started an evening school with 17 kids. Every evening, we would sit on a mat on platform number 3 and teach the basics to these kids. Today, the number of kids in our class has reached 27. Many of them have joined government schools.

My initiatives all over Bengal

Most of them have never known the love and care of a home, a family. Some are orphans, and some come from broken families with estranged fathers and mothers. I strongly advocate the importance of education to them. But, the reality is that they need money to run their families. So, I have arranged small stalls and ventures for some of these kids. They earn quite some amount by selling juice, lemonade, water bottles etc. after school hours. It is not much strenuous physical labour for them, and they enjoy it as well.

Over the course of four years, I have replicated my initiatives all over Bengal, in tribal villages like Belpahari or Totopara, which make headlines for the high poverty rates. I have been to rural Sunderbans among forest-dependent communities as well as Naxalbari, Alipurduar in North Bengal. Everywhere, my emphasis has always been on education. We organise drives twice or thrice a year to these places and help hundreds of helpless kids to get enrolled in schools. We also provide stationery, uniforms and medicine kits to them.

Distributing the cancelled orders and excess food among my kids

However, there is more to my story. Earlier, I used to work at Kolkata Municipal Corporation, but I quit my job to devote my entire time to the kids. But, I have to run my family as well, so last year around July, I started working as a delivery executive with Zomato. This is when I befriended a kind-hearted restaurant owner in Dumdum, who stepped into my team after learning about my kids. Now, some of the cancelled orders from Zomato and all the excess food from his restaurant come to my kids as their evening snacks, sometimes dinner. Addressed fondly by the kids as ‘Roll Kaku’ (Roll Uncle), he daily provides egg rolls, fried rice and all other items whose orders get cancelled. On occasions, he even arranges feasts for my kids. The gentleman wishes to stay away from the limelight, so he has made me swore to never mention his name or his restaurant to the public.

How other delivery guys and restaurant owners can feed a hungry India

Generally, when a customer cancels an order on a food delivery app, the restaurant which has already prepared the food gets the refund. Most of the times, the restaurant owners give away the food to the delivery guys. If the food is already en route, the Zomato customer care instructs the delivery men to take it home or give it to the poor.

Zomato has recently partnered with NGO Feeding India to divert all the cancelled orders to local shelter homes, orphanages, old age homes, centres for the specially-abled and similar institutions. We, the delivery boys are instructed to donate accordingly. For instance, in my area, we have been instructed to donate to St. Mary’s orphanage which we do.

I wish the endeavour continues on a larger scale and resonates all over India. So much food is wasted from restaurants every day, and not even 1% of it reaches these hungry kids. I appeal to all restaurant owners, food delivery guys and of course, the food delivery companies to take this into account and reach out to the helpless and hungry in their neighbourhood.”

– Pathikrit Saha, Zomato Delivery Executive

Recently, Pathikrit’s non-profit venture Help Foundation received its formal registration. Though he has always favoured such social work as a more informal and personal endeavour, he believes the registration will indeed help my kids receive more support and empathy. Any willing donors can reach out to him at 9804788406/9123348301.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote Is Distributing 40,000+ Meals Per Day In Mumbai During Covid-19 Lockdown

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Every global crisis affects every country in a different way depending on their socio-economic background. The COVID 19 pandemic hit India straight in its gut. After the lockdown daily wage workers and people who are underprivileged have been rendered out of their jobs. This has ultimately pushed them to an acute financial crisis so much so that even being able to afford two meals a day has become impossible. While we all wait for normalcy to bring us back our sanity, the financially disadvantaged people on the streets are fighting both the pandemic and hunger.

In a scenario like so, a number of social groups have come forward to help in whatever way they can. One of the worst hit cities is Mumbai, where 5 lakh migrant workers, the homeless and underprivileged residents of slums and chawls, waiting endlessly for normalcy to return., an initiative by is cooking food and delivering them to those in dire need, every single day.

“” that was launched in the city of Mumbai on March 29th, is one of its kind people-driven movements that has been running hall and hearty by the people coming from all across. It is that classic example of solidarity where people from all backgrounds, cultural and social has come together to ensure that every mouth is fed.

Brains behind KhaanaChahiye
Top : Pathik Muni, Ruben Mascarenhas. Below: Munaf Kapadia, Shishir Joshi

How does work

What’s different you ask? has built a capacity of preparing over a whopping 50000+ meals on a daily basis by activating the closed kitchens on several Mumbai routes. Pathik Muni, who has been particularly invested in the mission says, “ We crowdsource demand on hunger pockets and then map it to supply-side by activating closed kitchens. Our partner NGO “Project Mumbai” with reach to the relevant stake holders in Government departments helps us facilitate permissions to activate these closed Kitchens with a turn around of 24 hours. Parallelly we raise funds to map the demand.”

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Emergency funds sent to 250 families

Areas of food distribution in Mumbai

The food that is prepared is not just hygienic but also fits the calorie count that is sufficient for a person to get him through the day. Every meal consists of daal-rice, aloo-sabzi, chole rotis, veg pulav etc. has a volunteer-driven collective drive in various areas of Mumbai where people in large numbers have come forward to contribute in the many ways possible. So far the initiative has covered the Bandra to Dahisar route on Western Express Highway, Sion to CST and underprivileged pockets between Mankurd to Kurla on Eastern Express Highway, Juhu to Dahisar on Linking road, a cluster of 1100 labor camps near Mumbai Central and a part of Dharavi Slums.

If you want to volunteer in Mumbai kindly reach out to [email protected]

Food distribution areas  in Mumbai by

  1. To beggars & homeless
    • below the flyovers between Bandra to Dahisar on Western Express Highway,
    • between Juhu to Dahisar on Link road
    • below the flyovers between Ghatkopar to CST
    • under privileged pockets between Mankurd to Kurla.on Eastern Express Highway,
  2. To labour camps
    • a cluster of 1100 labour camp near Mumbai Central
    • a cluster of 3000 labour camp near Govandi
    • a cluster of 2000 labour camp near Mahul
    • a cluster of 750 labour camp in Colaba
  3. Parts of Dharavi Slums towards Cotton Green.
  4. Over 5000 meals in labour camps at various location identified and provided by the Assistant Commissioner,
  5. Serving food to over 5000 meals in Worli and Bandra on request of the local MLA and Corporator.

Immense demand of food in next 10 days

The intent of the movement is to continue the drive of feeding the needy in these difficult times at least until the lockdown is lifted by the government. However, as the days are proceeding, initiative has identified more and more hunger pockets as a result of which the demand for food is just rising since the time it started. To give a perspective of the recently emerged roadblock, Pathik says, “Nine days back, we started with 1200 meals and we are already catering a demand of 40,000+ as of today. We have corporate donors for most of our requirement, but as the demand for food is rising, we are now looking to feed 5000 people in next 10 days, which turns out to be 1,00,000 meals. Therefore we need to now raise a sum of Rs 25,00,000/- which is huge and we really need the support of more people.”

To raise the funds, initiative has come together with Efforts For Good and The Logical Indian to share this concern with our community members because as a citizen-driven movement, the initiative needs more and more people to come forward and a set a sum aside to keep the initiative going in its full glory so that there are no impediments coming in the way of feeding every mouth in these difficult times. Additionally, one can also contribute by sharing the word with friends and families. COVID 19 is difficult for all, the least we can do is to contribute so that the struggle to cope up with the pandemic does not add up to the struggle to cope up with hunger as well.

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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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