PETALING JAYA: As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, it’s heartening to see many Malaysians stepping up to help the less fortunate stay afloat amidst the adverse economic conditions the country is in.
One such kind Samaritan is Kalyani Appukutty, the founder of Higher Taste Bakery, who donates half her business profits so she can purchase groceries for needy families affected by the pandemic.
“Baking has always been a passion of mine, something I’ve been doing my whole adult life,” said Kalyani, who was a flight attendant with Malaysia Airlines for 24 years until health issues disrupted her career.
Last year, she began dabbling in charity work by collaborating with the No Food Waste Ranger, an organisation that gathers and distributes groceries and other essentials to the less fortunate.
“I used to bake up to 300 cupcakes and other sweet treats every day to be distributed to underprivileged children,” added Kalyani.
However, with the Covid-19 outbreak having such a devastating impact on so many in the country, Kalyani decided to tweak her charitable gesture by preparing grocery packs to aid families in need instead.
“Of course, finances became an issue but a couple of friends encouraged me to start my own baking business and use the profits to sustain my charity work,” she said, on how Higher Taste Bakery came about.
Kalyani’s sinfully delicious cupcakes and indulgent cakes belie the fact that they are all either vegan or vegetarian and made with unrefined sugar, multigrain flour and whole-wheat flour.
A former vegetarian, Kalyani explained to FMT that she turned to veganism for health reason. But there was the nagging issue of her sweet tooth. So, she began baking healthy yet delicious vegan and vegetarian cakes and cupcakes.
“Even diabetics love my baked goods,” smiled Kalyani, who is famous for her black forest cake, carrot walnut cream cheesecake, and vanilla cake with strawberries. Her bestseller, however, is the notoriously mouthwatering vegan chocolate fudge mousse cake.
“It is made up of layer upon layer of decadent moist chocolate cake, smothered in a rich chocolate fudge mousse frosting,” gushed Kalyani.
With the profits from her baking business, as well as donations from the public, Kalyani and her team have been able to provide grocery packs to 1,385 families.
Each grocery pack consists of a 10kg bag of rice, sugar, dhal, mee hoon, cooking oil and biscuits, all of which can help sustain a family for two weeks, according to Kalyani.
Apart from a couple of supportive friends who assist her in the grocery aid, Kalyani also receives help from the Malaysian Indian Truckers Club to distribute the groceries.
“During our first round, RM53,500 was collected and utilised to distribute cooked meals as well as grocery items to several families living in low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, and other areas in Selangor,” she said.
“Our volunteers reached out to 1,100 families in Taman Petaling Utama, Desa Mentari, Enggang Flats, the people’s housing projects (PPR) in Kampung Muhibbah, Kampung Kerinchi, Damansara, Seri Alam, and Batu Muda, as well as other needy folk in Prima Puchong, Bukit Puchong, Sentul, Klang, and Batu Caves.”
According to Kalyani, No Food Waste Ranger also assists her in screening the families that seek aid, as there have been cases where some have received aid multiple times and then sell the groceries to others to make some money.
Just recently, Kalyani and her team raised RM11,950 which they used to provide groceries to 285 families living at PPR Desa Rejang Setapak.
Kalyani admits that it is no easy feat managing her baking business and overseeing her charitable work but added that she pushes on because the reward is priceless.
“I find happiness and satisfaction when I see the grateful smiles of those we help and my customers.”
Higher Taste Bakery currently delivers to Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and Seremban. To those looking to support Kalyani’s charitable initiative, do check out her Facebook and Instagram pages or drop her a WhatsApp text at 019 329 9413.