Witnessing an old lady staring at the empty pasta shelves in Woolworths has driven one restaurant owner to offer free meals to elderly Australians who are struggling to buy groceries.
Sumit Malhotra had gone to a supermarket for his grocery shopping when he noticed an octogenarian lady struggling to buy basic food items.
- As at 6:00 am on 25 March 2020, there have been 2,252 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia.
- Older Australians, those with chronic medical conditions and those with compromised immune systems are considered most at risk of serious infection.
“I saw an old day staring at the empty shelves the other day I went to a supermarket. She asked the staff if they had any pasta or meat or eggs but the staff appeared helpless as he told her they were sold out,” Mr Malhotra told SBS Hindi.
“I felt so bad for her. I went up to her and gently asked her if she was happy to come next door to my restaurant. I told her I will cook her something.
“She first hesitated but then agreed. I took her to my restaurant and offered her an Indian meal,” he says.
This incident drove Mr Malhotra to start free meals for elderly Australians across his restaurant, Aangan's six branches in Victoria.
“I announced it via my Facebook page and it was shared widely. My restaurant has been shut down, but it is still open for takeaway. We give a free meal to elderly people between 5 and 6.30 pm daily,” he says.
On average, his staff feeds 80-150 elderly people daily.
“Yesterday, we reached a peak of 150. I am glad that I can be of help to people in need,” he says.
Mr Malhotra feels though COVID-19 has hit his Indian food business hard, it is not the time to think about his income.
“This community has given me so much. I am successful because of them. It is now my turn to serve the community,” he says.
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The Australian government has shut down non-essential services to contain the spread of COVID-19 however restaurants and cafes is allowed to remain open for takeaway.
Australians must stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people. Indoors, there must be a density of no more than one person per four square metres of floor space.
If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.