The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has been tough for everyone in the country. Whether bedridden with fatigue and fever as a patient or exhausted after taking care of family members who contracted the disease, a nutritious home-cooked meal has been one of the most essential requirements for people throughout the country. With a surge in demand, the lockdown saw a rise in the number of home chefs providing ‘ghar ka khana’, as it is popularly known in the country. However, with no proper medium for the chefs to let people know about the service they are providing, the information started scattering on social media and most people found it difficult to avail the services in their location. Akash Pardasani and Parth Dixit, two IIT Delhi alumni, came up with their initiative, ‘RotiNextDoor’, to solve this problem after Akash fell into a similar situation when his whole family contracted the virus in May this year.
“I was in Delhi up until the last week of April when my whole family back in Bhopal contracted the virus and I had to come back and take care of them. It was very difficult for me to manage cooking nutritious food that they needed at that time since I have minimal cooking skills. Parth was constantly in touch and was helping me find the right source to get food. We found that people were actually reaching out on social media so that they can serve food to whoever needs it. This is when Parth came up with this idea," says Akash.
When Parth started looking for contacts around Akash’s location, he found that the information was all over social media, but not in a manner that is easily accessible to everyone. “We found people were already helping out and someone had actually made an effort to put the information out there. But the link to get it to the right person was missing. We then decided to build a platform, which would be based on a Pincode-based search," says Parth.
Once a user visits rotinextdoor.com, he/she will get an option to put their Pincode and hit search. The user will then be able to see home cooks or volunteers near their location, what they are offering and will also be able to get their contact details.
If you are a home cook, you can also use the website to sign up on the platform. “Verification in these times is very important because as a patient or caregiver, I would want to be assured that the food is coming from a trusted source. We along with some of our friends who are helping us constantly call up the people registering on the platform to know about the hygiene quality they are maintaining and the number of people they are serving," says Akash.
Although the IIT Delhi roommates started the initiative to help people during the lockdown and developed the whole platform working remotely, they are now planning to extend the platform beyond the pandemic. Parth says, “When we reached out to the cooking community, we realised that there might be some value in exploring the home-cooked food channel. For example, if there are elder parents living alone in a different city, one can be assured that there might be caregivers to provide them food. There might be bachelors living away who might search for the taste of a home-cooked meal from their hometown. So these are some aspects that we are keen on exploring."
According to Akash, the gratitude that people express when they know that there is someone out there to help comes as a sense of relief. “The warmth and the love that people express, from them to the cooks, to finally us, gives us a sense of relief that we are actually able to help and do our part however small it may be," adds Akash.