For the past one week, Manoj, a daily wage labourer at Khoda colony, has been visiting a food cart near Kamal Marg in Sector 55 for his afternoon lunch. He claims he has never eaten a meal as nutritious and cheap as the ones served here.
A plateful of rice, daal, poori, sabzi and sweets will cost you a minimal Rs. 5 if you happen to visit Kamal Marg from 12.30pm to 1.30pm between Monday and Saturday. Of late, a mobile food van ‘Mata Pita Aashirwaad Pradatt Chalit Bhojanalay’ has been serving afternoon meals to nearly 400 people every day at the spot.
For Manoj, a migrant worker from Bihar, a cheap and nutritious meal is a welcome break from his tiring workday.
“Even a cup of tea at a stall now costs more than Rs. 5. It is rare to eat such nutritious and healthy meals at this price. Earlier, I had to either skip lunch or eat at dhabas. Now, I have decided to visit the cart every day,” said Manoj.
Similarly, for Pankaj Kumar, a member of the IT staff at a nearby private company, the meal available at the food cart is much better than the ‘monotonous’ food available at his company’s canteen.
“Often, I end up spending a lot of money in the office canteen with colleagues, but due to the food cart, I am able to save money and enjoy much better food,” he said.
Run by Shree Narayan Sanskritik Chetna Trust, the food cart has been providing cheap and hygienic meals to workers from lower-income sections of the society for the past one month.
“For the past month, we have been serving subsidised meals to daily wage labourers, rickshaw pullers, auto drivers and other workers. Although we charge a nominal Rs. 5 for the meal, we ensure that highest standards and cleanliness are maintained when it comes to food quality and preparation,” said Dr RS Gaud, trustee associate.
“We chose Sector 55 because of its proximity to Khoda colony where many people from economically-weaker sections reside. The sector also has many factories and companies where hundreds of workers are employed,” added Dr Gaud.
The initiative was started by Rajan Kumar Srivastava, chief patron of the trust, as a tribute to his now deceased parents. The food cart sees 400-450 people lining up every afternoon before the counter to get a token to avail the meal.
“While we brought forward this initiative to feed the poor, the food cart is open to all. We also have a variety of sweets and sabzi. On Thursday, we serve ‘kadhi’ and ‘halwa.’ ‘Kheer’ is also served on alternate days,” said Dr Gaud.
The trust has limited food supply to run on a daily basis and is open only during lunch hours.
“Every day we buy 15 kg of rice, 12 kg of wheat, seven kg of pulses, 15 kg of vegetables and seven to eight kg of sweets for distribution. Usually, the supply ends by 1’o clock,” said GS Negi, a volunteer with the trust.
The trust intends to run the food cart every afternoon until, in Dr Gaud’s words, “The trust has no more funds or there is no labourer working on an empty stomach anymore.”