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Healthy eating is the USP at this breakfast outlet run by disabled Kolkata youth

If you are in Kolkata and looking for some healthy breakfast options on weekends, head to Sip N Bite, a newly launched outlet at 13 A Lake Road.

From takeaway boxes that you can eat on the go, to omelettes and sweet options like cookies, this outlet promises a sumptuous start to your day. In a city known for unique cafes, Sip N Bite stands out for two reasons - its healthy meal options and staffers, many of whom are people with intellectual disabilities.

Being foodies themselves, they bring to the table some solid culinary experience as they have been catering for nearly four years at corporate workshops and college events. The staff is made up of 12 disabled people, supported by a team of 5-7 others without disabilities.

The food served here is continental and it is healthy and gluten free. Everything from jams, jellies to sauces is made in-house. The USP of the outlet is NOT that many of the staff members have disabilities, but in the kind of food offered. We are promoting the idea of healthy eating. - Amrita Roychoudhary, Founder, Transcendent Knowledge Society

Sip N Bite is a collaboration between Transcendent Knowledge Society (TKS), an organization that works to empower people with disabilities and South Kolkata Parasmoni (SKP), a parents' collective. The staff at Sip N Bite acquired their culinary skills at a vocational center started by SKP.

The idea of growing further into a breakfast outlet was born from a need felt to integrate people with disabilities socially, says Roychoudhary, who brings to the table 15 years of experience as a rehabilitation specialist. "I felt the need to work actively to integrate them socially, something that you cannot do sitting in a clinic."

Chaitali Gami, secretary, SKP, and one of the founding members, says that going to the café is one of the bright spots in her 23-year-old daughter's schedule.

"Shreya has Down syndrome and she loves to come to the outlet. All these children love to create and coming here reinforces their confidence. Their self-esteem is enhanced. When my daughter was diagnosed, the doctor said she would be a burden. Through such initiatives we want to show the world otherwise."

The act of going out and mingling with everyone is helping to change that perception, believes Shambhunath Bannerjee, whose son Srutarshi has autism. The 25-year-old is a master in the art of making omelettes.

"People will realize that they are not defined by their disability," says Banerjee. "He is so excited about being here and because he is so dedicated and sincere, he does his utmost to perform the tasks perfectly. "

So, why don't you take a break from the kitchen this weekend? Head to Sip N Bite, where you can sample Srutarshi's omelettes. Timings 6.30 to 10.30 AM.

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