Prasaad Community Kitchen

Prasaad Community Kitchen

Youth constitute the highest percentage of working population in India but the youth, who are considered as the strength behind the growth story of the future India, are largely, not only unemployed but unemployable. The proportion of youth being unemployed and unemployable among disadvantaged communities is higher than general categories of population. Thus, the youth employment gap, because of inequitable access or lack of quality vocational training and education in disadvantaged regions, not only deters the disadvantaged communities to gain from the pressing developmental policies and programmes and deepens the problem of deprivation and social exclusion but also widens the socioeconomic gap between different communities. Given the enormity and urgency of this growing problem, it is important for practitioners to understand the key challenges and opportunities related to youth livelihood development particularly in the disadvantaged areas. From this we have initiated our PRASAAD, community kitchen enterprise.

Prasaad, a moderate cost community kitchen, engages youth from marginalized communities in Kolkata, provides low-cost hygienic and nutritious food from community-inspired recipes, ensuring alternative income opportunities for the adolescents to pursue and sustain their higher education. When the world focus on youth has re-strengthened with the adoption of UN Sustainable Development Goals, the youth from marginalized communities in India studying in schools/colleges hardly have any platform to be trained to run their own business ventures.  Additionally, the employment  opportunities in eastern India, mainly Kolkata is acute. The cost of available management courses in the service sector is too high for them to pursue. Thus, this initiative has ensured that by the time they complete their college education or graduation, they would also acquire skills and gain valuable experience in a professional set up. Thereafter, the  youth would have a two-fold opportunities either to start a self-sustaining business  or seek employment in the hospitality industry.

Thus the project will attempt to fulfill the 8th U.N. Sustainable  Development Goal which aims at productive employment and decent work for all.

Prasaad offers not only food to the general public at large but the youth who are running the show get periodic life skill and soft skill training to run the kitchen and be hospitable towards their clients. They get various exposure to hone their skills. Thus, Prasaad community kitchen which is stepping into its sixth year this April is catering to Salt Lake City and Rajarhat Newtown residents on a regular basis.  The youth who are involved in Prasaad is operating from the third floor of Prayasam’s admin office. They have acquired some equipment to cater to the needs of the big clients. But still there are some areas where they need support.

Prasaad’s main idea was to include more students coming from marginalized areas into this catering services. Though the need is there due to lack of proper workshop place we cannot accommodate more than 10 students. Prasaad has a big and beautiful terrace in front of it, if the area is covered with fibre glasses then more students can be invited to have training on a regular basis.

This area can then be converted into a terrace café, with proper décor and sitting arrangements and this terrace café can then employ more youth. As Prasaad is running from the 3rd floor of Prayasam’s admin office an elevator from the ground floor to the terrace can bring more clients of all ages to enjoy the environment and food of Prasaad Community Kitchen.

Once the Terrace Café  is constructed, Prayasam’s youth will be responsible for marketing, distribution, food production, community branding, finance and overall management. As students they will be engaged in Prayasam’s ‘Earn while you Learn’ project.  To build the capacity of the members, they will be trained by the people of the community, who have knack for cooking and are masters in preparing traditional, cost-effective and nutritional food items. Thus the community’s knowledge, experience, skills and expertise, will serve as a major resource bank, which will be complemented by Prayasam’s training and workshops on nutrition and hygiene, soft skills and life skills, for developing their leadership, communication and managerial skills as well.

Primarily aimed at all round development and ensuring proper growth of children, Prasaad is a capacity building and awareness generating project with a multi dimensional focus to solve the community’s problems in a holistic manner. Specifically, Prasaad will address the most complex but common problems in the communities i.e. unhealthy food habits, chronic health ailments, early marriage and high rate of school dropout. Through this project adolescent girls will be able to gain experience and skills not only in cooking and hygiene practices, but also leadership, teamwork and management, enabling them to generate income by seeking employment in hotels or starting their own enterprise as business entrepreneurs in future.