By Sadhana Holla (Bangalore, India)
“If every household can cook for just 2 more people everyday, this world would never go hungry.” - Shyam Keswani. This thought drives what Shyam and Kanchan Keswani do.
It all started when...
Shyam Keswani and his wife, Kanchan, felt that they were not making productive use of their time. They wanted to make a difference. Their first step towards this was getting associated with Ashwini Trust, Ulsoor that serves as a crèche for families who can’t afford the more expensive options which includes nannies and babysitters. The Trust helps families consisting of working mothers, mainly house maids and construction workers. Since Kanchan Keswani absolutely loves to cook and is really good at it, the Keswanis’ started helping the Trust in the kitchen. They were very closely associated with Ashwini Trust for about a year and half, after which they had to temporarily discontinue their efforts due to other commitments.
What is a community kitchen?
Once they were at a point where they considered rekindling that association with the Trust, the Keswanis’ decided go a little further and establish their very own Community Kitchen with the aid of their family and friends.
A community kitchen gives people the opportunity to get together and share the costs, planning, preparation and provision of healthy meals for those who require it in and around the community. The idea behind community kitchens is to provide cheap, even free, nutritious food as public service.
Serving more people
Initially, 3 years ago, they started out by serving 40 to 50 people with their requirement of healthy, tasty food for 3 days a week. And as of today, they help over 200 people. This rapid increase has changed is due to the involvement of their friend, Ram Kapai. Due to unfortunate circumstances relating to his personal life, Shyam Keswani was unable to work. Being the best of friends from the time they were kids, Ram Kapai and family decided to pick up the work on behalf of Shyam Keswani until his return in April, 2017. Ram Kapai joined them about one and a half years ago and brought with him a number of friends and family members to lend extra sets of hands to ease and improve the work of the community kitchen. Ram and his friends have also set up another community kitchen in Shanthinagar, where Shyam Keswani will be joining soon, in about a month.
Community kitchens provide reliable, nutritious and inexpensive food for the elderly, ill, disabled, and people who spend most of their day doing manual labor. The best way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. The Keshwanis have kept a lot of stomachs full and a lot of hearts warm.