Millions of poor Indians are going hungry, after losing their jobs due to the lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 spread in the country.

Moved by their plight, Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna has embarked on a campaign to keep them fed, from thousands of miles away from where he is based, in the United States.

Al-Jazeera spoke to Vikas, who started the "Feed India" campaign in April, after spotting a picture of people suffering without food at an old-age home in India, in the spam folder of his e-mail, which he says "crushed him".

So far, the "Feed India" campaign has fed more than 20 million hungry people at leprosy centres, elderly care homes, highways and orphanages, in at least 125 cities in India.

Vikas collaborates with local volunteers to conduct the food distribution drives, by phone and social media from his upscale apartment in New York. Vikas was born in India but moved to the US in the year 2000.

There were times that the stress of conducting the food donation drive had been too much that he had considered calling it quits.

However, his mother, Bindu Khanna, spurred Vikas to continue his "duty to feed India".

The chef, who was awarded the Michelin Star in 2011, has previously cooked for personalies such as former US president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

Besides his usual food donation drive, Vikas also conducted a one-off campaign during the Eid celebrations last May, where he organised around 200,000 meals to feed the Muslim community in Mumbai.

He also organises drives to feed other vulnerable groups, such as old-aged people, the disabled, sex workers and the transgender community.

According to Khanna, the satisfaction he gets from feeding the hungry is bigger than any Michelin Star he has attained.

"When I receive a phone call from a leprosy centre and I hear they have placed a picture of my mother on the wall, because they see your mother as theirs... that is the biggest compliment," he told Al-Jazeera in a phone interview.

Despite the enormous challenge he faces in the "Feed India" campaign, Vikas has not planned to throw in the towel yet.

In fact, it could turn into a permanent mission for him, he said.

What a noble cause indeed!

Bravo chef Vikas Khanna! He has proven that no matter how high one gets in his or her life, blessings will come to those who stay grounded.

India is the world's third worst-affected country from the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 970,000 infections and over 24,000 deaths, to date.


Source: Al-Jazeera
Photo source: Twitter/Al-Jazeera via Vikas Khanna and Maximus Collabs