Trial run for new menu to begin; early visitors to get limited portion free of cost

Early visitors to the Amma canteens on Friday will get to taste a limited quantity of delicious pongal, free of cost.

Those who taste the dish may also be asked to register their feedback with the canteen employees. Based on the feedback received, suitable changes will me made before Monday. On the day, Chennai Corporation will make the announcement regarding the date of launch of a new menu, which will include pongal.

According to Corporation sources, there is a need for additional workers to serve pongal and curry leaf rice. But the civic body is planning to make optimum use of existing employees to reduce the expenditure. However, the number of additional employees required might be finalised based on the trial run on Friday.

The six women employees in the mornign shift in each of the Amma canteens will have to start work before 4 a.m. on Friday, as they have the additional task of preparing the pongal. On normal days, only the women employees belonging to self help groups start work at 4 a.m.

The trial run will also help the employees assess the changes in the day-to-day expenses wrought by the new menu. Each canteen spends over Rs. 5,000 per day on vegetables and other items, purchased in addition to the provisions from the State government.

“The mayor announced in the council that Amma canteens will serve healthy food. So preparation of pongal may require superior quality ghee or vanaspathi. This may call for additional funds. The trial run will also help the employees make key decisions on reducing expenditure,” said an employee of an Amma canteen.

The much-anticipated move to supply pongal in the 200 Amma canteens in the city is expected to increase the responsibilities of the civic body.

The civic body’s decision to create a separate department for managing the Amma canteens will be crucial in sustaining the innovative welfare measure. So far, officials of the Corporation’s revenue and health department have been running the canteens.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had recently announced the expansion of the menu in the canteens with pongal, rice preparations and chapathi. Currently, idli is sold for Re. 1, sambar rice for Rs. 5 and curd rice for Rs. 3. Breakfast is supplied from 7 a.m. to noon. Lunch is served till 3 p.m.

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