ECO Kitchen

ECO Kitchen, Unit of YRGCARE Foundation 8/2, Harischandra III Cross St Injambakkam, Chennai-600041


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The ECO Kitchen offers delicious, vegetarian meals of outstanding value through Kathir, as well as premium personalized catering through Out of the Box (OOB). More than just a tantalizing treat, every ECO Kitchen meal helps to improve the lives of underserved families in Chennai. Mob: +919840079001 (Ganesh), +919884307150 (Sethu) Email: [email protected]

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  • on 08 Apr, 2013

    Sumita Pai

    The head of Project ECO (Enhancing Community Opportunities) is Dr. Suniti Solomon - who documented the first cases of HIV in India. She is the Managing Trustee of YR Gaitonde Medical, Educational and Research Foundation. The foundation has pioneered HIV/AIDS education, prevention, training, health care and research. It has also facilitated community services and gender empowerment. Project ECO helps families affected by social and economic challenges, and helps provide assistance and relief to the underprivileged. It also creates and promotes micro-entrepreneurship opportunities for disadvantaged women and their families. Women who are victims of domestic violence, spouses of drug users, or those dealing with HIV or chronic diseases are given access to affordable and healthy food in the city of Chennai. These women \'man\' the kiosks that are put up in strategic locations in the city. These are open during meal times to cater to people on the move, who stop for a quick bite/meal. The costs are nominal, the meals healthy and hygienic, and the women at the kiosks earn a decent pile of money at the end of each day. The food is hygienically prepared (untouched by hands); ECO\'s cooking process can be witnessed at their premises. The food is then delivered to corporate cafeterias, the kiosks, and at shelter homes across the city on a daily basis. At the core of Project ECO is the ECO Kitchen. With a meal production capacity of 30,000 per day, the costs are ridiculously affordable. They have an \'open house kitchen\' at Injambakkam where all are invited to take a look at their food processes. The naturally lit and well-ventilated building utilizes renewable energies and systems. Eco-conscious technology using biomass briquettes, solar geysers, a condensation recovery system, an expansive drainage system, and a wastewater treatment plant that irrigates the garden forms the core of their processes. True to their name, they have carefully crafted their production to minimize their impact on the environment. ECO Kitchen offers delicious, fresh vegetarian meals incorporating healthy ingredients through hygienic production processes, helps improve the lives of underserved families in the city of Chennai, gladdens the hearts of those serving and those served, and manages all this with exemplary, prompt service by a helpful set of smiling employees. How do I say this? Because it was experienced first-hand a few weeks ago. At the heart (literally and figuratively) of ECO Kitchen\'s activities is their \"Kathir Dhan\" program. Kathir meaning \'first ray of the sun\' and dhan meaning \'to provide\'. This program addresses the rampant (yet hidden from public view) issue of hunger and malnutrition. The Kathir Dhan program provides the bridge between those in need and those who wish to help. I was told one meal would cost me Rs. 30 and this would be distributed to any non-profit organization of my choice, or any shelter home located close to where I live, for the sake of convenience. Since they are connected to various homes, I left the decision to them. They got back to me in some time with a narrowed down list of homes, also based on whether the shelter home was willing to accept the food on the particular day/date. Some of these homes are booked ahead of time. Most of these dates are fixed as per the donor\'s choice. Invariably, these dates fall on someone\'s birthday, anniversary or to celebrate a festival/special occassion. Typical of Indians to choose a date based on something auspicious or pertaining to a special memory. So while it is not entirely unselfish, two birds get fed with one meal here. :-) The date I chose was March 4th. The day the most important man in my life left me for greener pastures. Or cloudier ones if he is in heaven, and I have no doubt that is exactly where he is now. My father Navin Kumar Pai - one of the nicest, kindest, polite and helpful gentleman with many feathers in his achiever\'s cap. He had amassed the best of academic degrees, climbed many a corporate ladder when it was unheard of back then, helped many silently without even his friends or family knowing since he did not talk about it himself, and left a special legacy beyond his lifetime - of providing water to a community (and generations beyond) by installing an RO system and arranging a Metrowater pipeline where none existed for over a decade. I could write reams about him, his life, his work and his qualities, but to the little girls of St. Francis Xavier Home, none of this matters. Irrespective of who he was, they said a sincere prayer for his soul and his loved ones. It was an extremely humbling moment. To see a 120 kids close their eyes and narrate a prayer with folded hands in such earnestness (it had to be seen to be believed) for people they don’t even know. They prayed for health, happiness, and prosperity for the family and peace for the departed soul. The expression on their innocent faces and that moment is etched in a corner of my heart that I did not even know existed. And as if to ensure I never forget, they sent me a set of photos of the kids enjoying their lunch, all of us goofing around, and me performing catering duty! Each girl stood in line patiently and quietly, and thanked me with a big smile for a meal they had yet to taste, much less begin eating. How much and with what ease and how quickly we crib about the taste and quality of food we pay for when we eat out, or when we eat at a function we attend and we might not quite enjoy it but have to be polite; and most of all at home - we nitpick and grumble at someone’s efforts, someone who has slogged in the kitchen all day to serve the family – it could be your cook/domestic help, your spouse or your parent. All the relationships that we take for granted until the moment we lose them. Those little girls taught me a huge lesson that day and I am forever grateful to them. And to ECO Kitchen for giving me this golden opportunity. My next date with them has already been booked. The plan is to make this a monthly affair. ECO Kitchen\'s Kathir Dhan is a complete wholesome program, in more ways than one. Tasty food and an experience that satiates the palates and hearts of both the server and the served. The question here, though, is who exactly is who? :-)

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