Food

COVID-19: Chef Vikas Khanna distributes dry ration meals across India

Chef Vikas Khanna   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Chef Vikas Khanna, who has successfully distributed four million dry ration meals to the needy across 79 cities in India amidst the COVID-19 crisis, has called for solidarity and unity among people to defeat the pandemic.

Khanna, living in New York City, started an initiative in April to create a supply chain to ensure dry ration is procured and distributed to orphanages, old-age homes and leprosy centers as the COVID-19 cases increased in India and the government implemented a lockdown to control the spread of the virus.

In less than a month, the 48-year-old world-renowned chef distributed more than 3,100 quintals of ration, including rice, lentils and wheat flour, to orphanages and old-age homes and other needy individuals across 79 cities in India.

Khanna expressed his deep gratitude to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), its Director General Satya Narayan Pradhan and the force’s personnel who he says have been working tirelessly on the ground to collect, package and distribute the ration across India.

He said in the current time of deep suffering, people have to support each other. “I am focused on ensuring how to reach as many more people as possible to help them in these challenging times,” he said.

The process

“I am not doing any favour. I am giving back to my country. Apart from the kitchen, a chef has a huge responsibility.” Khanna recalls that his exercise to provide dry ration and meals was triggered by a spam email that he received.

The email was accompanied by a picture of an old age home in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, a place Khanna says is very close to his heart. Khanna made a donation through the email but was later made aware that it was spam. However, Khanna realised that places such as old-age homes and orphanages would face difficulty in procuring their ration and food supplies due to the restrictions that had been put in place.

“These places usually don’t have ration or food supply that can last months and many depend on daily donations,” he said.

Khanna, who could not travel to India due to COVID19-related international travel restrictions, used social media to convey his message that he is creating a supply chain to help feed millions of people across India and will provide dry ration to old-age homes, orphanages and hospitals.

He recalled that he faced challenges as he began coordinating with vendors and suppliers in India to procure and distribute the ration.

“I burnt my fingers at the outset, he said, adding that he was duped by a supplier in Bengaluru who took money from him for the ration but did not supply the goods.

He was then advised to approach the NDRF to help him in the distribution of the ration. He said the process grew and now more than 350 people are working on the ground in India to provide ration and meals to those impacted by the COVID19 crisis.

In parallel, Khanna also started ‘Indian Culinary Heritage’, an effort to help those from whom Khanna learned culinary skills that helped shape his journey . In one instance, Khanna used social media to locate his masterchef Satyam, 72, who had taught him the technique to make dibba roti, a speciality from Andhra Pradesh.

“I learnt the technique of dibba roti by watching him years ago. Please help me reach out to him asap. This is the true heritage of our country and we have to protect these treasures,” Khanna had tweeted.

He was soon able to locate Satyam and Khanna supplied him with a year’s worth of ration.

Khanna says it is very important to support people like Satyam, who are treasures of Indian cuisine but are reeling from the impact of COVID-19. Right now, in the times of COVID-19, it seems everything is setting you up for failure. But you can believe in a cause and achieve it.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 4:52:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/covid-19-michelin-star-chef-vikas-khanna-distributes-dry-ration-meals-across-india/article31581532.ece

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