Amongst all the other sectors, the street food vendors have been hugely impacted in India due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. And to help them sail through these bleak times and get back to business, SAAG has come up with the #savethestreetfood campaign. Here’s all you need to know about it. By Tanvi Jain

 

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A preferred choice among Indians from all walks of life, street food often qualifies as a spot that defines the pulse of a city; so much so that tourists especially visit certain places just to try its famous street food fares. Be it golgappas and chole bhathures of Delhi or radga pattice and pao bhajis of Mumbai, culinary trails are endless.  

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought this everelusive business to a standstill not just because of the long stretches of lockdowns but also due to the hygiene factor of street food that’s mostly cooked and served in the outdoors. Therefore, in order to help street food vendors during this crisis, South Asian Association for Gastronomy (SAAG) has recently launched #savethestreetfood campaign to revive the dying business across countries like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The whole idea is to rescue businesses from shutting shop while introducing the elements of safety and hygiene.

 

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“Our campaign hopes to offer a safe passage for street food vendors through these troubled times until the government steps in. We have taken feedback from our partner countries, where the situation is similar to that of India. The need right now is to create an effort that not only gets these vendors back on their feet but also helps them navigate in the post-COVID-19 world where they can do business in a more credible and hygienic manner,” says Maneesh Baheti, Director and Co-Founder of SAAG. 

On being asked about the future of street food in the post-COVID-19 world, he adds, “The main issue which the consumer will face is the issue of trust. Can they trust the street food vendor to follow the protocols necessary to reduce the spread of the infection? Even the street food vendor will have doubts about whether people will come back and trust him. So, what is required is a registration and a certification process for street food vendors as a guarantee for sellers that customers will be coming back, and for the customers as well, that this street food vendor has gone through the protocols required to make his food safe and hygienic. 

 

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Further expressing confidence in the fact that the street food business will boom once again, he said, that people will definitely enjoy street food in the future because it’s a part of Indian culture. “Street food will come back but in the current scenario when there is no vaccine for COVID-19, people will come back only if the vendor is cleared by a competent authority to be COVID-19 free in terms of preparation, dispensation of food, and disposal of garbage. Street food is not going to die down but the path to recovery will be slow,” he concludes. 

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