Crowdfunded Initiative feeds Thousand People a Nutritious Meal at Rs 5 daily in Haldwani

Arun Kumar wipes clean his lunch plate and with a satisfied burp, utters a silent prayer for the group which has provided him his mid-day meal. At just Rs 5, the migrant from east Uttar Pradesh who plies a rickshaw in Haldwani has had a full meal of rice, vegetables, dal and salad, all prepared under the supervision of specialised chefs. Almost a thousand people like Kumar are being fed every day by ‘Thaal Seva,’ a citizen initiative that has been crowdfunded through social media. A group of 10 Haldwani residents have come together to start the initiative which provides a thali of wholesome food consisting of 400 grams of rice, vegetables, lentils and salad.

The founders of the group include housewives, professionals and local traders who collaborated on WhatsApp and Facebook and also secured funds through these mediums. Initially, says a member of the group, they managed to collect Rs 5000 each from around 400 persons which was enough to sustain them for a year. But as word spread about their work, donations started pouring in from as far as Canada, Dubai and Mauritius. The group now operates out of a fully-stocked kitchen (which became operational last week) that is manned by five cooks who prepare the meals. Dinesh Mansera, a Haldwani resident who is leading the initiative told TOI, “The idea started with the objective of providing affordable food to people who come to get their family members and relatives treated at the government hospital in Haldwani. Many of them cannot afford a four-square meal Subsequently, we expanded the scope of the project to include all people who could not afford a proper meal.”

Rahul Varshney, a hotelier from the city whose chefs guide the team involved in cooking the meals, adds that “the response to the initiative has surpassed all expectations.” “People have just connected with the idea and want to be a part of it. We have been getting positive reactions and donations from all across the country as well as abroad.”

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