Amid COVID-19 pandemic, a movement to save street food.
While this long lasting coronavirus has affected the countries globally, it has also hit the street food vendors the worst. To save this street food vendors, the South Asian Association for Gastronomy (SAAG) has launched the campaign to #savestreetfood across India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh.
SAAG, a think tank drawn from across South Asia, has an annual platform called “The Food For Thought Fest”, which is India’s only international gastronomy platform. SAAG is a collective of hospitality industry professionals, food scholars and policy influencers from South Asian nations who believe in promoting regional unity through culinary diversity.
SAAG has brought this campaign together to form a charter through which it would make an effort to save the livelihoods, as well as the immense contribution to local culture and flavour contributed by the millions of street food vendors across these countries.
India alone holds 3 million street food vendors whereas this number increases exponentially across in other countries as well.
This pandemic has hit the street food vendors in a worst way which has led them to return to their villages and many forcing them to close down their ventures.
In a press statement, Maneesh Baheti, Director & Co-Founder SAAG, said: “Our campaign hopes to offer a safe passage for street food vendors though these troubles times, till the government can step in. We have taken feedback from our partner countries, where the situation is similar to India. The need right now is to create an effort that not only gets these vendors back on their feet, but also helps them navigate a post-Covid-19 world where they can do business in a more credible and hygienic manner.”
In this need of the hour, #savestreetfood will work on a multi-country effort to help street vendors survive this pandemic, by creating opportunities for financial support.
Post the same, the charter ahead will work with the government on offering a certification to every single street food vendor in India. The certification will entail basic training in hygiene and protocols to be followed in the preparation, dispensing and disposal of food.
FSSAI needs to tie up with organisations that are focused on training whether from private sector or NGOs for a deeper penetration. Although , FSSAI already has experience in rolling this out with National Associations of Street Vendors of India (NAVSI).
The word of mouth awareness and success for initial sign-ups will prompt greater participation from all street food vendors, as they come under a more organised body once this is done.
This will create great potentials for generating livelihoods and offering semi-skilled people with recourse to earn money from a profession that has a low entry barrier.
This was first published in Deccan Herald