Hospital food isn’t exactly the most palatable variety of food. But when your kin is admitted to a hospital, food is rarely on top of your list of priorities. That is exactly what Seva Kitchen has been looking to change since the idea germinated in 2014.
That was the year Nagpur-resident Khushroo Poacha had to admit his mother to a hospital because she was keeping unwell. It was she who first observed how patients, and even more so their relatives, were unable to get a proper meal.
She mentioned this to Poacha, who made a mental note. She passed away a few months later, but the idea remained with Poacha – a Central Railway employee. Moved by the plight of patients and their employees, he decided to deliver 25 meals one day to the kin of patients admitted to the same hospital his mother was treated in.
This, in effect, was the start of Seva Kitchen.
The growth of Seva Kitchen
As Poacha’s friends came to know about his initiative, they too showed the willingness to contribute. In the early days, they pitched in with the raw materials.
However, Poacha subsequently mandated that if people wanted to contribute, they had to cook and deliver the meals themselves. The aim, Poacha said, was not to accept money but get people involved.
“Soon, people were delivering 100-150 meals every on a regular basis to those who needed them the most,” he told Times Of Food over the phone.
Here’s an example:
Neki Ka Pitara
As Seva Kitchen expanded beyond Nagpur, Poacha turned his attention to other aspects of patient welfare. “We noticed that some patients in needs of milk, fruits and juices were not getting them,” he said. And that’s how Neki Ka Pitara was born.
The name literally translates to “box of kindness.” In its physical form, a Neki Ka Pitara is a refrigerator installed in hospitals that is filled with essential food items that patients can avail for free.
Poacha explained that people have enrolled as contributors to the Neki Ka Pitara across six cities: Nagpur, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, New Delhi and Thane. Each time someone at any of the hospitals – where a Neki Ka Pitara is installed – finds that the refrigerator is empty, it falls on one person after the other on this list of contributors to fill it up.
Then, in January this year, an app was launched to pick up excess food from social functions and share them with the underprivileged.
“This is not leftover food,” Poacha clarified. “Leftover food would mean food left uneaten on the plate. No. This means food that was not served and could otherwise go to waste.”
Since Poacha launched this initiative, volunteers have, in at least 40 instances across India picked, up excess food from functions and distributed them to those who need food the most.
All three initiatives reflect the mantra on the Seva Kitchen official website: “Respect the dignity of those who you serve.”