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A piping hot deal for city’s elderly

Renuka Phadnis
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‘Meals on Wheels’ home-delivers lunch to over 100 people every day

Source of contentment:Autorickshaw drivers deliver the food to homes and ensure the programme runs without any hiccup.— Photo: R. Eswarraj
Source of contentment:Autorickshaw drivers deliver the food to homes and ensure the programme runs without any hiccup.— Photo: R. Eswarraj

Every afternoon the elderly Adeline Machado eagerly waits in her Hampankatta home for “hot meal” to arrive. “At this age, getting a nice hot meal in the afternoon at your doorsteps is a blessing from above,” she says.

The meal is sumptuous for the price charged. There is plenty — enough to eat in the evening, too. “I share it to the watchman, too. Why waste!” says Ms. Machado, who stays alone.

The source of her contentment is ‘Meals on Wheels’. Apart from sharing the food, she spreads the news about the “programme”, which is run by the Karnataka Christian Educational Society (KACES).

Today, her old classmates also get their ‘meals on wheels’.

KACES Secretary Honey Cabral — the brain behind Meals on Wheels — told The Hindu that the institution sends lunch to 108 people, mainly senior citizens and those who cannot cook on their own because of health issues. The lunch is delivered to people who live within a distance of 10 km from KACES, which is in Balmatta. The vegetarian lunch is priced at Rs. 50, and the non-vegetarian at Rs. 60.

The customers have to pay a non-refundable deposit of Rs.1,000, and must take it continuously for at least 15 to 20 days. During those days, if they do not want it for a few days, that is okay.

Manohar, another customer of the programme, says food from restaurants caused stomach upsets and ‘Meals on Wheels’ solved his problem. While it is not “five-star”, he finds the variety good for the price. “I can’t cook. Instead of going to restaurants everyday, this is the best,” he says.

O. Pinto, a former Mumbai resident who leads a retired life with her husband here, is also a fan of ‘Meals on Wheels’. Whenever she longs for something familiar, she “balances” the meals with something from her kitchen. She says it is “very nice for senior citizens” as it is inexpensive, regular and hygienic.

Sandeep Theophil, co-ordinator of the programme, says autorickshaw drivers, who deliver the meals to homes, ensure the programme runs without any hiccup. The customers also pay for the lunch through them. They supply food in three routes. One, to Falnir, Attavar, State Bank and Lobo Lane. Second, to Balmatta, Hampankatta, Mangala Stadium, Chilimbi, Urwa Market and Baliga Stores. Third, to Arya Samaj, Kadri Temple, Nanthoor, Shivabagh, Kankanady, Nagori, Bajjodi, Colaco Hospital and Balmatta.

He says most of the customers are above 60 years.

The food is subsidised by the KACES and is prepared along with the food for KACES Hostel. In May, the hostel, is closed for annual vacation but the home delivery continues on requests from customers. The home delivery is stopped only once a year, for Christmas vacation, from December 22 to January 2.

Mr. Cabral says that the initiative does face challenges. In the past few months, prices of raw material have risen and till now, they have been managing from income from the hostel rents. Getting help in the kitchen is tough.

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