Last year, a video of a delivery agent eating a portion of food from a customer’s order went viral on social media, triggering outrage online. The issue, however, highlighted the plight of food delivery agents who sometimes have to skip meals to deliver food to customers. Taking a cue from this, a club and a restaurant chain in Chennai have come together to launch a project to provide meals for free to food delivery agents while they wait outside restaurants to pick up orders of customers across the city.
The Rotary Club of Chennai Royals and vegetarian chain of restaurants, Sangeetha teemed up for the Feed the Feeders project in Thoraipakkam, along Chennai’s Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR). The pilot project aims at feeding 400 food delivery agents in the city every Monday from August 26 to September 16 between 12:30 pm and 02:30 pm.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Jeyalatha Martin, the president of the Rotary Club of Chennai Royals said that Feed the Feeders was born last year. “At that time, all that I could think about was, ‘If the man has to steal food, how hungry must he have been?’. Food delivery agents have to skip their meals to deliver food to customers since orders are time bound and they need to make money. Yet if they stop to eat their meals, they lose orders and have to take the fall for that too”, she said.
Jeyalatha said that the club had then held a discussion with Murali, the owner of Sangeetha, who jumped on board with the project.
The first phase of the pilot project, which kicked off on Monday catered to over 100 food delivery valets outside Sangeetha’s Thoraipakkam outlet, where the delivery agents were provided with a bowl of sambhar rice and buttermilk. “Since OMR is the IT corridor of Chennai, the footfall of online food orders is more. So we decided upon OMR as our first stop”, said Jeyalatha.
The members of the club opined that this was the first time that such a project has ever been done in India, given that people often distribute food in schools, hospitals, temple, orphanages and old age homes.
The club members said that the first phase of their project was received very well among the agents, with most of them thanking members of the club and hotel personnel for respecting them and treating them as human beings. “It was so satisfying to see the happiness on their faces. The delivery agents told us that this was the first time that people were serving food to the very people who deliver food to the hungry,” said Ruckmani, the secretary of the Rotary Club of Chennai Royals.
Murali, the owner of Sangeetha hotel, said, “Our chain of hotels is happy to support the next three phases and we are ready for such projects over the years as well.”
Ruckmani the Secretary of Rotary Club of Chennai Royals hoped that this initiative of theirs will help in changing the way one treats food delivery agents in the city. “In fact, this could be something that customers do on their own. Even giving something as basic as a glass of lemon juice or butter milk will help the valets feel recognised and they can go about their work with a full stomach”, said Ruckmani.
The club hopes to make this a regular scheme and are looking at tying up with other restaurants in Chennai for a city-wide implementation of Feed the Feeders project. The next three phases of Feed the Feeders will be held at the hotel’s branches in T Nagar, Velachery and Navalur.