New Delhi, November 19— Globally-renowned chef Vikas Khanna, while sitting in New York, has provided food to around 5 crore poor people in his homeland India since the Coronavirus-driven lockdown was clamped in the last week of March this year.
Khanna, recipient of a Michelin star in America, has written 35 books on Indian food, directed a film, cooked for Barack Obama, and hosted “MasterChef India,” but he says “Feed India” is his greatest achievement to date.
Khanna launched the initiative about 8 months back after he got an email late March carrying photo of some elderly people holding empty food plates in India. Though he later found the senders of the mail were not genuine, the picture moved his heart.
“In the email they had used a picture of elderly people holding empty food plates. A day after I donated to the cause, while speaking with my team in India, I encouraged them to contribute to the organization,” Khanna was quoted as saying by CNN.com. “A team member who had seen the image earlier said the picture had been copied from a government website,” said Khanna. His money was gone, but the image of the poor elderly people stayed with him.
From April 1, he started helping the poor families. He tweeted a call-out for the names of old-age care homes, orphanages or leprosy centers that needed help. He got reply from more than 1,000 people. Though his own flourishing catering business was impacted due to the lockdown in the US, he continued helping the people.
How He Helped People
According to CNN.com, Khanna formed a small team that started shortlisting cities where food was needed. In each shortlisted city, the team reached out to dry food wholesalers and found volunteers to pack food kits and deliver them to those in need. The first deliveries were made on April 3 in two cities – Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Mangalore in Karnataka.
“My brain said ‘don’t do it, you’ll get distracted’. But my heart said that ‘your mother didn’t raise you to be on Instagram and putting videos of your selfies,” Khanna said.
More than seven months have passed but he is continuing his ‘Feed India’ initiative. Amritsar-born Khanna is satisfied with his grand humanitarian work.
“If my grandmother was alive, she would say, ‘you weren’t born for the Michelin star, you were born to do this’,” says Khanna.