She found her calling when she realized how much food was being wasted. Knowing how many people go to bed hungry, she knew she had to help. She mentioned that, as per The World Food Programme, over 60% of the food produced is lost or wasted. “Learning this was the turning point for me” said Seema.
Seema explained “I conceived the idea in July 2018, registered the business in August 2018 to initiate setting up all operations and eventually launched in March 2019 by the name, Cooks Who Feed.” To help fund the business, Seema launched the business on Kickstarter, with the goal of raising 14K in 30 days. Launching on Kickstarter was a good way to see if there was a viable market and raise the needed funds. To her delight, she was able to achieve her target by the 28th day itself. She then used this initial revenue to ramp up the production and market the products aggressively.
“From October 2019 until March 2020, we have been able to provide 150,000 meals and our goal is to provide 1 million meals in a year through our initiative.”
The production team consists of about 50 marginalized women from northern Delhi. The company only uses locally-sourced, recycled and natural fabrics to produce their aprons. The aprons are then shipped to Canada and sold across retail channels (online and consumer shows) and wholesaled to businesses in the hospitality space such as culinary colleges, restaurants, and hotels. Cooks Who Feed has an association with 3 charities that rescue food waste and distribute it to those in need. The profits from each and every apron sold is shared with these charities so that every apron sold provides 100 meals. These charity partners are:
Seema explained “All of the above mentioned NGOs save the food which otherwise would go to landfills and give it to the needy, poor or under-privileged. Second Harvest rescues a lot of food from supermarkets and farmers, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine in the States rescues food from restaurants which has not been served and Feeding India procures much of their food from weddings and social functions in India.”
When asked why only aprons and not any other products, Seema replied “We are on a mission to fight hunger and aprons are an integral part of the food industry. We will look beyond the apron, at other kitchen textiles, but for now, to keep production costs low, we will focus on one product. Also, an apron is easy to stitch so it requires minimal training for our production team.”
Speaking about the future plans of the company, Seema said “Cooks Who Feed plans to introduce more initiatives to educate consumers on how to minimalize food wastage. There are very many good things in pipeline through which we intend to save the consumable food from going into garbage and serve the society.”