IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

India is in a COVID-19 crisis. How these food brands are helping

"I felt helpless being so far away from home, and wanted to be able to do something to help," said Diaspora Co. founder Sana Javeri Kadri.
/ Source: TODAY

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to spiral out of control across India, small brands are banding together to raise money and support for the country. On Monday, India recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the 12th straight day, bringing the country’s total infections to nearly 20 million, reported NBC News. The country has been manufacturing vaccines for the rest of the world but has been facing a shortage domestically.

Founder Sana Javeri Kadri has been using her brand Diaspora Co., which she describes as "a love letter to Indian spices and culture," to raise money. As of Monday, the company had raised over $296,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

"I felt helpless being so far away from home, and wanted to be able to do something to help," Kadri told TODAY Food. "My business is my social capital, so we're using the power of the Diaspora community … It is at the heart of what we do to show up for our community and culture right now. There was nothing else to do but find a way to help."

Kadri is also participating in a large raffle, valued at over $1,000, that includes items from Diaspora Co. and 16 other brands, photographers, chefs and artists, including cookbook author Amy Chaplin, Farah Jesani's One Stripe Chai Co. and Nisha Mirani's textile brand Sunday/Monday. The raffle, spearheaded by Shaz & Kiks, an Indian haircare brand, and author Christine Chitnis, has raised $113,300 so far for efforts to assist India.

Chef and cookbook author Chitra Agrawal is also participating in the raffle with her Indian condiment company, Brooklyn Delhi. She told TODAY that she, too, wanted to find a way to avoid feeling helpless amid the current crisis in India.

"I have family in India who are being affected by COVID, I have a number of relatives that are down with the virus right now. It's something that is very personal to me, so I'm trying to raise awareness and donate to these efforts as much as I can, because it's like really kind of feeling helpless so far away," Agrawal said. "… Together we're making a huge impact."

In addition to participating in the raffle, Agrawal said she is donating 15% of sales this week from the Brooklyn Delhi website to nonprofit GiveIndia, and making a "big push" so that people are aware of the different ways they can donate.

Agrawal said she hopes people who have enjoyed other parts of Indian culture consider donating or raising awareness about the crisis there.

"Indian culture, in a lot of ways … touches a lot of people," she said. "I hope that people understand that and want to give back. Whether you practice yoga or drink a masala chai, all of these things are part of South Asian Indian culture, and I hope that people try to give back in light of what's happening there."