Zomato Feeding India (ZFI) is the food delivery platform's non-profit arm which is working towards “achieving zero hunger” in India. Chaitanya Mathur joined Zomato in 2018, after 14 years of experience in fields ranging from financial analysis to event management and being a restaurateur. He took over as head of ZFI in 2020. Mathur, who has an economics degree from the University of Warwick, the UK, was in for a busy first year in his new role. Mathur spoke to THE WEEK about ZFI's participation in the Feed the Daily Wager initiative, and future plans. Edited excerpts:
Q/ Why was this initiative unique and how did it benefit daily wage earners?
A/ It impacted the lives of daily wagers who had [lost] their only source of income, leaving them with no means to earn themselves a meal during the early days of lockdown. Feed the Daily Wager saw 500 plus ZFI volunteers (Hunger Heroes), 99,883 individuals, 66 companies, 426 NGOs and 50 Zomato team members come together in a collaborative effort to ensure that millions of our fellow countrymen do not sleep on an empty stomach.
Q/What kind of traction did this initiative get during the lockdown?
A/Over the course of four months and across 181 cities, we served a total of 78 million (7.8 crore) meals. With drives from Jammu and Kashmir to Port Blair, ZFI was able to raise [about] Rs32.6 crore and distributed 7.49 lakh [ration] kits, utilising 100 per cent of the donations to purchase food grains and essentials. We also received generous in-kind support in the form of ration kits and transport services from our partners. We are glad to have been able to virtually gather the entire country to provide support to a community worst hit by the pandemic.
Q/What are ZFI's future plans?
A/We continue to work for different communities and solve hunger at the national level. We are currently running campaigns for children (Feed Every Child) and stray animals (Food For Paws) who do not have access to proper nutrition. We have also started serving freshly cooked meals to those people in need with the help of our NGO partners, under the #IamFeedingIndia campaign. Our goal is to make at least one free, freshly cooked meal available to 10 lakh individuals daily.
Q/Could you describe an example of how ZFI helped those in need?
A/We found a colony in New Delhi that consists of 2,800 families of magicians, puppeteers, acrobats, jugglers, singers and others who were left with no jobs to make ends meet. We decided to deploy our resources and were able to provide ration kits that could last them for two weeks, within 24 hours. For us, being able to feed someone in need and seeing a smile on their faces [is reward for] our efforts. Anyone who wants to join us on this mission can reach out to us through our website www.feedingindia.org or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.