“Kitchens should never stop functioning. Even at our homes, the only time the kitchen stops working is if something is seriously wrong. If I feel that way about my home’s kitchen, why should my company’s kitchen be any different?” says Dev Amritesh, Managing Director of Compass Group, one of the largest contract food service providers. Under its initiative Let’s Feed Together, Compass Group has served more than 6.7 lakh meals to the needy since the lockdown across Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.
In this article, Amritesh explains to us how the idea germinated, what the group is currently doing, how they manage the logistics and the impact of their initiative.
How the Images of Migrant Workers Led to The Initiative
“As news of the spread of COVID-19 started trickling in, many large corporations we were serving started asking their employees to work from home. This, followed by the national lockdown, meant that all our kitchens were effectively shut for operations,” says Amritesh.
At the same time, the images of the migrant workers left a deep imprint on Amritesh. “All the pictures we saw of people walking without any access to food was one of the triggers that led us to brainstorm on how we can help.”
“Our group has formidable infrastructure with industrial scale kitchens and my colleagues have a high degree of expertise in feeding thousands of people every day. I felt that if we do not use it now, then when?” he adds.
When Compass Group India tweeted about the initiative, it started the snowballing of support, and Amritesh says that soon enough state governments also started approaching them for help.
Swiggy and Compass Group, India got together and did amazing today. We cooked and delivered close to 20K meals to support Govt. of Delhi’s efforts to feed the needy. Teams worked all night and day, tirelessly. Salute to their Heroism #CompassStrong #COVID19 #Swiggy @harshamjty pic.twitter.com/faN3GeHTwJ
— Dev Amritesh (@devamritesh) March 27, 2020
Amritesh’s plan needed three key ingredients to be successful – cooking infrastructure, ability to distribute, and access to funds. “We had the first part, and we tied up with partners on ground who were capable of distributing food to the right group of people. What we needed was access to funds. We felt the best way to raise funds was to invite everyone to come on board and purchase meals for those who cannot afford it through an online portal called – Let’s Feed Together,” he explains.
Let’s Feed Together enables us to sponsor meals to those in need. It tracks the number of meals ordered, meals served, and also lists the beneficiaries who get the food. The food is cooked in the Compass kitchens and with the help of government agencies and NGO partners, the food is distributed amongst the right people.
Amritesh tells us more about the meals served to the people.
“We prepare fresh food each day. Each meal weighs about 450 gms and is wholesome and nutritious. Some of the things that are prepared include – Achari dal khichdi with vegetables, vegetable Sambar rice, tomato khichdi with vegetables, among others.”
Additionally, the Group also uploads a timely report of the number of beneficiaries served, their details and the meals they are being served to help donors feel an active part of the process.
Building Team Spirit
Amritesh is especially proud of how the entire Compass team has come together in making this possible. People are donning unfamiliar roles to contribute for this cause.
Citing an example, Amritesh says, “Siddharth Nair, who usually heads HR Operations has been busy taking on the role of the staff driver during this period, ferrying staff to the kitchens, while the National head for Mobilisations – Kumar Shaswat has taken over the role of a packaging supervisor.”
“Often, I get messages from our delivery partners and team on-ground about those who are served and it is these messages that keep us going,” says Amritesh.
This, at a time when their primary source of revenues – of catering to corporations – has literally come to a standstill. Yet, the fact that the staff feels so passionately about this cause is inspirational.
“This is not just a job for us anymore – it’s our way of contributing and doing our bit during these tough times,” concludes Amritesh.
You Can Help!
You can choose to order meals to the needy. All you have to do is log on to the website Let’s Feed Together and click on the number of meals you would like to order. Each meal costs Rs 30 to prepare and deliver. You can choose to sponsor between 50 – 5,000 meals per day, or even higher if you like.
You can also reach out to them via e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)