Kerala-based women’s empowerment community Kudumbashree has launched the Lunch Bell project which provides homemade meals to workers in governmental offices, banks and private establishments. Inspired by Mumbai’s renowned food delivery service, Dabbawalas, the initiative features Kudumbashree workers in distinctive green T-shirts paired with pink caps delivering the freshly-prepared meals in tiffin boxes, retrieving these later in the day.

Lunch orders via Lunch Bell are facilitated through the Pocketmart app. Orders are placed in the morning and delivery personnel distribute lunch boxes directly to designated tables. Each lunch box, resembling a thali, offers a variety of dishes. Empty containers will be collected at 2pm the same day by the volunteers, who ensure that the boxes undergo a thorough three-level hygiene wash before being re-used.

The service offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options at competitive prices. The vegetarian lunch box, priced at Rs60 ($0.7), contains rice, sambar, pulissery, koottukari, chutney and pickle, while the Rs99 ($1.12) premium lunch box offers non-vegetarian options. Initially accessible at sites such as the state secretariat, the legislative assembly, the Vikas Bhava government offices and in public spaces, banks and private institutions in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kudumbashree plans to extend to rural areas.

Rising health and nutrition consciousness drive growth

Kudumbashree states that their homemade meals provide a healthier alternative to fast food offerings that often incorporate excessive salt, sugar and unhealthy oils. Nutritious home-cooked meals can enhance immune system function and mitigate the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.

The demand for homemade food is anticipated to surge significantly in India, driven by escalating health and nutrition consciousness among consumers. This demand is further fueled by the expanding working population, coupled with hectic schedules leaving limited time for home meal preparation. As demand grows, more homemade food delivery services are expected to launch.

The new service is part of Kudumbashree’s strategy to enhance women’s incomes. Projects also include Agri Kiosks that sell organic vegetables and fruits and the K 4 Care programme that addresses two concerns: geriatric care and women’s employment. The Lunch Bell service will help expand awareness and provide more income-generating opportunities to women.

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