Dancer and theatre person, Sravasti Ghosh gets lunch packets ready for distribution in Kolkata; Photo by Subir Halder

Sravasti Ghosh spent much of her time in April helping Covid patients find hospital beds or oxygen cylinders and fetching medicines and groceries for them. But the shrill sirens of speeding ambulances at odd hours left her restless, and she felt guilty about not doing enough to ease the sufferings of people during the pandemic. That’s when, browsing through Facebook, she hit upon the idea of supplying nutritious food for free to those in need.

Ghosh’s mother, Ajanta, advised her to work out the finances before taking the plunge. “But I was impatient and felt there was no time to waste as people were dying every hour,” says Ghosh, who works at the Kolkata Centre for Creativity, an arts organisation in the city, and is also into theatre and dance. On April 27, she put up a Facebook post offering 15 meals a day for Covid patients in home isolation. “Within hours, the post drew 1,000 shares and my phone started buzzing,” says Ghosh.

That evening, as soon as Ghosh’s mother reached home from work, the two hit the local market to buy vegetables and provisions for the meals while her father, Subir, sat down to do the math—they figured out that providing 15-20 meals would cost Rs 1,000-1,500 a day.

The menu was kept simple: rice, dal, veggies and fish or egg for lunch and dinner. Ghosh cooks the meals with her mother while her father helps with the packing. For delivery, she has roped in friends who are already in the field helping with various Covid outreach programmes in the city.

Ghosh wants to continue supplying the meals without any charge. “How does one take money from an aged couple who feel blessed to receive cooked food or from a woman whose husband lost his job in the lockdown and is unable to buy even medicines?” she asks.

Of late, well-wishers have been chipping in with funds—about Rs 2 lakh so far. Ghosh isn’t complaining for it has helped her scale up to providing 100 meals a day for the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, her mobile phone keeps ringing and her notepad fills up with names and addresses of people in need of meals. “Every small step counts,” says Ghosh.

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