Food Stall Supports Families

Food Stall Supports Families

In New Delhi’s Anand Parbat is a roadside food stall that is collectively run by the Mahila Shakti Self-Help Group (SHG). The 10-women member SHG with support from Oxfam India and Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) set up their food stall and have been generating income. These  women had borne financial brunt of the lockdown and decided to do something about it.

The Mahila Shakti SHG is led by 46-year-old Jaya. Jaya is the main breadwinner at home – comprising her son, brother-in-law and husband. Her son works with CFAR.

While the women from the Mahila Shakti SHG families were all born and brought up in Delhi, their parents’ generation had migrated to the city 50-60 years ago from Andhra Pradesh. In Anand Parbat Colony, 150 households are from Andhra Pradesh.

Having grown up in the same neighbourhood, the women knew each other well. They got together for a meeting and decided to set up a SHG to generate work, income and savings. The Mahila Shakti SHG was formed in March 2017 to pool in and save their collective income.

Lockdown was an uphill struggle for the group. Jaya says, “None of us have proper jobs with a steady income. We were all daily wage workers, or worked as domestic staff. Next thing you know, COVID-19 happens and our employers have fired us. We couldn’t step out during lockdown. We were trapped at home. Besides our own expenses, we had children to look after- their tuition, study supplies, etc.” It was around this time that they came in contact with CFAR. The NGO was working in Anand Parbat to support the community of leprosy survivors, who had to resort to begging for income.

During lockdown, Oxfam India and CFAR provided rations to communities through Mission Sanjeevani. “Given that employment opportunities were almost non-existent during that time, we reached out to CFAR stating that we wanted to work independently to generate our income,” says Jaya. CFAR and Oxfam India then provided material to set up the stall, kitchen utensils for cooking and rations. Soon after, the food stall was up and running. The Mahila Shakti SHG members also set up a group bank account for themselves.

Set up in 2021, their roadside food stall sells poori-sabzi and parathas in the morning, and rice, roti, sabzi and dal in the afternoon. Every day, a different SHG member runs the stall. When we visited Anand Parbat, that day it was being run by wife and husband duo – Lakshmi (aged 33) and Ravidas (aged 37). Before Lakshmi joined the SHG, Ravidas was working at Haldiram and Lakshmi was a housewife. When the lockdown happened, he lost his job and they were left with no means to support his mother and their two children. Fortunately, the food stall helped to alleviate some of their financial troubles.

However, running the stall had its fair share of troubles. Whenever they set up the stall in a market or main road area, the police would chase them away. Finally, it was set up on a side of the road near the homes of the SHG members.

Since it is an SHG that runs the food stall, they are able to take on large orders. The money generated from the food stall helps the SHG members meet day-to-day expenses, build their savings and work independently.

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