Snacks, cookies, chocolates, cakes – indulge your sweet tooth but with less guilt with Thank U Foods. This initiative selling food products made by visually impaired people was started in 2018 by Indian Association for the Blind. The aim was to empower visually impaired youth by giving them training in making and selling cookies. The popularity of the pop up food stall led them to extend their repertoire into making other food products like packed snacks.
Until COVID-19 hit India, the food products made by the visually impaired youth at Thank U Foods were found in the cafeterias of major companies. When lockdown was declared, business was affected and Thank U Foods was forced to shut down operations for some time. After some brainstorming, the team decided to go online and sell the food products. They decided on a list of 20 items and in a short span of time have found new fans across the country.
Making visually impaired people self-reliant
M Abdul Raheem, CEO, Thank U Foods, hopes that the growing popularity will enable greater livelihood opportunities for visually impaired people.
We make snacks first for ourselves, for our families, for our friends and for you because we love it. More than anything else great ingredients make a great product. So, partnering with the best local suppliers, we make fresh snacks every day. Every snack is made from scratch using great ingredients, imagination, and passion. We believe that with customer support we can build a social impacting brand by producing and serving world-class snacks and creating meaningful livelihood opportunities for people with disabilities. – M Abdul Raheem, CEO, Thank U Foods
Thank U Foods was started by the late S M A Jinnah, also the founder of IAB. Mr Jinnah went blind at the age of 13. He became aware of the struggles visually impaired people face in becoming independent and decided to change their lives by giving them opportunities to become self-reliant. He knew that given equal opportunities, visually impaired youths could deliver world class products and services. That’s the principle on which Thank U Foods was built.
Watch this video to learn more about Thank U Foods:
“Unlike others, differently abled people have to go a step further to take care of their survival needs”, says Raheem. “They cannot get a job easily. We hire them, support them and help them secure them a job at Thank U Foods, making it easier for them to take care of themselves”.
From dependency to self-reliance
There’s a professional chef on the team to train visually impaired youths in making different food products and handling the kitchen equipment. All the mandated safety measures, food standards and norms are followed. Although the number of people on the online team is smaller than the original team, IAB continues to support the entire team of Thank U Foods. You can buy the food products directly from the website. There are plans to list them on e-commerce sites like Amazon as well.
Thank U Foods has acquired a steady customer base especially among people who are looking to indulge in traditional Indian sweets and snacks made using healthy ingredients. One of their hottest selling products is the Mysore Pak made with palm jaggery instead of white sugar. They also have a range of cookies made without flour and white sugar and namkeens made with wholesome ingredients like red rice and millet.
“I ordered sweets and savouries from Thank U Foods”, says Derick Fernandes, a frequent customer. “I was impressed by the packaging of the products as well as the quality of all the products. The namkeen was fresh and crunchy as advertised and the Mysore Pak was gobbled up on the first day”. “The items always get delivered on time and are hygienically packed”, adds V Sruthi.
From a pop up food stall to a pan India presence, Thank U Foods had had a fairytale rise. The Covid lockdown put a speed bump on its path. But that was a temporary blip and the quality of food products made by the visually impaired youths has enabled this social enterprise to script a success story. The simple idea of making and selling cookies has grown into a nationwide brand delivering high-quality food products made by visually impaired youth that are healthy and tasty.
To know more about orders from Thank U Foods, click here.