This street food seller in Chennai provides free food to the hungry during the lockdown

Kalyanasundaram, 56, began saving last year, when there was talk about a second wave, and has used his savings to provide free food to those in need

As talk about a possible second wave of COVID-19 emerged last year, 56-year-old Kalyanasundaram, who sells street food in a pushcart in West Mambalam, began depositing small amounts of money into his account. By May this year, he managed to save nearly ₹80,000 and when the lockdown was announced, he withdrew the money in parts to resume what he did in the first lockdown — feed the hungry, twice, daily.

For 10 days now, he has been providing free lunch and dinner to the homeless and hungry on Bakthavatsalam Street in West Mambalam. “I start my day early to prepare the food along with my wife K. Padmavathy. For lunch, we prepare a variety rice like sambhar rice or puliyodharai and for dinner, it is some tiffin like rava pongal, arisi upma or vegetable upma,” he says.

Around 70 people came on the first day and after that, he has been serving nearly 200 persons every day. They get water bottles as well.

Nearly four decades back, Kalyanasundaram left Mayiladuthurai and came to Chennai for a living. Initially, he would pack food parcels and head out to streets and mansions to deliver freshly-cooked food. Gradually, he bought a small pushcart and began selling sundal, vadai, bajjis and samosas that were a hit in the area. “There are many who do a lot of things to help the poor during the lockdown — this is what I can afford and do it to the best of my ability. Now, after seeing the cart, some well-wishers also have pitched in,” he adds.

He says he takes utmost care in ensuring the food is tasty and fresh. “I will continue doing it till I exhaust my savings. This city and its people have given me so much. It is time I give back to society in some way,” he adds.

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