A tiffin service that serves a special ‘social story’
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Her husband hasn’t spoken to her in three months, but Neetu hopes he will come around. After all, she says, working with Lunchbox 17, a tiffin delivery service in South Delhi, has completely changed her attitude.
The social enterprise was launched in May by youth-run NGO Swechha and employs women from Jagdamba Camp, a slum near the organisation’s Khirki Extension offices. The initiative aims to provide employment, and eventually empowerment, to the women, and clean and tasty food to young professionals and students in the area.
Lunchbox 17 has given Neetu her first job at age 32, one that has caused some friction in her marriage. “My husband thinks it’s not right that I’m out working. But, I was getting so bored at home and working here has made me so much more confident. Earlier, I wouldn’t talk at all in public,” says the mother of six.
Her transformation has been made possible by Lunchbox 17, and enterprise training programmes run by Swechha from March to July. The NGO’s executive director, Vimlendu Jha, says though Lunchbox 17 “it’s not a real business”, it’s already served around 1,000 people.
“We have a no-investment, jugaad kitchen, but we are sending out 120 tiffins everyday. This is women’s empowerment around a real need in the city for inexpensive and hygienic food,” says Mr. Jha.
The service has picked up customers through word of mouth and social media. From a daily bulk order of 40 tiffins from a factory in Okhla to professionals too tired to cook after work, the customers all get a fixed menu of rice, rotis, lentils and vegetables.