In more than 200 restaurants in Kozhikode, a city in Kerala, India you can see a box filled with notes and coins next to the cashier. And on that box is labeled two words - Operation Sulaimani.

An initiative started by District Collector N Prashant who believed in the compassion of his fellow Keralities, Operation Sulaimani began in 2015 and remains a huge success even today.

Under Operation Sulaimani, donations from the public go into boxes  strategically placed throughout the city. The money from these boxes fund coupons which are made available at government offices and many hotels. Those who are hungry and do not have money can then take these coupons for free and have a hearty lunch of their choice in any of the designated restaurants, no questions asked.

In June 2015, Operation Sulaimani was launched in 40 restaurants and eateries in Kozhikode. In that first year, over 10,000 meals were served across Kozhikode via Operation Sulaimani and the number of restaurants had increased to 200 across the district, a massive increase of 500 % in participation.

Operation Sulaimani ensures that no one in the Kozhikode district goes hungry with over 200 restaurants providing food for free and with dignity.

Operation Sulaimani ensures that no one in the Kozhikode district goes hungry with over 200 restaurants providing food for free and with dignity.
The district collector regularly updates the list of hotels participating in Operation Sulaimani.

Prashant Nair modeled Operation Sulaimani on systems existing in western countries - 'Coffee on the wall' and 'Food on the Wall' - where the community reaches out to care for one another. The name is derived from the flavorful spiced tea 'Sulaimaini' available in the Malabar area. The thought behind this first came to the District Collector while watching the hit Malayalam film 'Ustad Hotel' which dealt with the topic of attaining personal peace by serving the poor and hungry. So it was a wonderful blend of reel-life meets real-life when director Anjali Menon, who wrote the script of Ustad Hotel, inaugurated Operation Sulaimani in 2015.

One of the best things I read from one of Prashant's interviews was this anecdote. He was asked whether he had factored in that many people may misuse this venture. His reply?
'Yes, maybe many will. But they will just misuse it for eating food, not for any other purpose. The main thing is that the hungry will be served for free, with utmost dignity.'

Operation Sulaimani does not receive any funding from the government. All the money for this noble cause is purely contributed by the public of the city of Kozhikode, who do not ask the identity of the recipient of their generosity. It is enough that they get fed.

Operation Sulaimani ensures that no one in the Kozhikode district goes hungry with over 200 restaurants providing food for free and with dignity.

Final thoughts:
For those who want it, you can also take my recipe of Sulaimani tea from here!

Author's note:

This is part of my #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion.
The list for this year's (2018) Heroes of Kindness can be found here.

Of course, I have been tracking these lovely human beings for years now and have found children as young as six years old and old women in their eighties from across the world who will restore your faith in humanity. You can find the entire list of Real-life Heroes of Kindness and Compassion here.


I am impressed with my countrymen and I am not amazed that something like this started in Kerala - a state with the highest literacy! I was so happy to travel in Kerala and was thrilled to see the kind souls on the streets who helped me out whenever I had need, polite men in buses and ferry who let women sit - it felt like I was in another part of the world. So letching or groping or staring- I was most comfy traveling there on my own!

O is for the magnum opus #atozchallenge
Shilpa Garg said…
"Hungry will be served for free, with utmost dignity"... This initiative is giving the hungry more than food, for it's hard to have dignity when you are hungry. Kudos to the partnering restaurants and the contributors.
Shirley Corder said…
I love this post and the initiative behind it. Oh that we could start something like this in South Africa, but I know what would happen. The boxes would be stolen. How sad is that? Next in A to Z Challenge: O is for Take every Opportunity to improve your life, improve your mind.
Pranjali Mehta said…
After reading the post i also remembered the wonderful idea of " coffee on the wall " i had read about some time back. So glad to know such ideas being implemented in our own country. Can imagine this happening in kerala as after my 3 years of stay in kerala i know that the people there are capable of making such ventures a succes.
Deepa said…
true.. real life heroes of kindness. will definitely come back to your posts starting from a after the challenge as the theme is very impressing. great to get connected to you through this post.
Balaka Basu said…
I remember almost 12 years back we were in Germany where we were encouraged to buy and extra cup of coffee that they said was for the homeless who can come and drink. Great to know that even in my own country something similar is happening.
BTW in Mumbai we do have a community refrigerator where we donate food. Maybe one day you can write about that.
Soumya said…
Yes! for Kerala! Yes! For India!

Nice to see something this good happening in a city that shuts down for a strike every now and then. We need more such initiatives in our country.
deepti menon said…
A wonderful initiative by the Kerala government! I had no idea this existed till I read it here. Thanks for sharing this, Roshan!
Shalzzzz said…
Wow! And I never knew about this. Similar operations should be undertaken by officials in all the districts - no, all the states! This is amazing!!!
Kohl Eyed Me
Something's Cooking
Ramya Abhinand said…
What a brilliant initiative. how I wish this could be started in every district and city in our country.
vivs said…
Another factor which can only be experienced is the hospitality in serving food malabar side... feel thats heloed fr the project to fly high...
Another initiative by the same collector was please do check in...
Deepa said…
Good to know about an initiative like this from our own country. A beautiful initiative by some large hearted people.
This we need to learn.How is the monwy collected and coupons divided.Does everyone get coupons ?Any screening?
Such a noble cause. I liked the reply by Prashant on people misusing the coupons.
D Biswas said…
This is wonderful! We have an initiative like this in Singapore, where we 'chope' food for the needy :)
Geethica Mehra said…
Food is the basic necessity of every human being. If you can provide this with kindness that will be the best gift to the humanity. Hat's off to this operation
zainab said…
I hope the north can also learn from Kerala :)
So proud!
Basic need of man is food. There is no bigger punya earned than by giving someone food. PRASHANT has earned so much respect and good will by this initiative if feeding the hungry and poor. Kudos to the people if kozhikode for supporting generoualy to this operation
Bushra said…
This is great initiative by Prasanth I'm impressed by the Support and generosity of Kozhikode people
Unknown said…
V salute Mr. S. Nair the collector for his wonderful operation. God bless him