Bhavesh Utmani, an IT professional, who is a home chef during the weekends, said, “My parents and I tested positive for Covid-10 last month and were in home quarantine. It was difficult for us to prepare meals, so we hired a tiffin service. However, my parents did not like the food. So, when I recovered, I signed up on the online portal ‘Covid Meals for India’ to offer free meals for Covid patients in isolation and their families.”
“We pack the same food that we cook for ourselves at home and deliver and around Yerawada and Wakad,” he added.
Chef Saransh Goila, founder of the online portal, said, “At any given time, there are over 2 lakh users on Covid Meals for India, mainly built to resolve the issue of meal management during this time. What started as a spreadsheet has now grown into a website with over 3,000 volunteers across India, with over 190 from Pune.”
Tanya Dingreja, a resident of Bibvewadi, joined the initiative to cope with her father’s recent death.
“I had quit my job and could not focus on anything. As I enjoy cooking and feeding others, my sister gave me the idea of joining this initiative. Many people have donated small amounts of money, fruits and other raw materials and my family pitches in as well. While I cook, my children pack the meals and my husband delivers them. We manage to send out 35 meals a daily,” she said.
Apurva Arora from Kharadi takes orders before 3pm and delivers dinner to Covid patients and their families, all while doing her day job as an IT professional.
“I prepare wholesome and nutritious meals, which include greens, fruits, and protein for Covid patients. Eating the right type of food is important for recovery. The patients’ family, who are taking care of them, also need proper meals. One of my first deliveries was to an elderly couple, who had come to Pune because their son and daughter here were hospitalised. I could help with the meals, so at least they had one less thing to worry about,” she said.
While many are paying for raw materials, packaging and deliveries from their own pockets, some are charging a nominal amount.
“Since last week, from Mondays to Thursday, we have been providing healthy meals for quarantined and recovering patients and healthcare workers, who cannot prepare or arrange for their own meals. We only charge the cost of raw materials,” said Abhimanyu Sen, a home chef.
There are many other home chefs doing the same independently in their vicinities.