Community kitchens reach out to needy during lockdown

NGOs join hands with district administration, Corporation to ensure food for all

Updated - April 07, 2020 04:21 am IST

Published - April 06, 2020 10:33 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Namma Navakkarai team prepare food for men on duty at the Tamil Nadu- Kerala border.

Namma Navakkarai team prepare food for men on duty at the Tamil Nadu- Kerala border.

A number of organisations have put up community kitchens to provide food for street dwellers and the poor who have hit hard by the lockdown to check the spread of COVID-19.

At a centralised kitchen at Ashoka Perumal Kalyana Mandapam in Ram Nagar lunch is prepared for over 2000 people. Volunteers of Coimbatore Catering Owners Association pack food into containers that are delivered to the hungry at Sivanandha Colony, Saibaba Colony, Ganapathy (East & West) and Sanganur in Coimbatore North zone.

Madhampatty R. Nagaraj, president of the association, says they are distributing over 2000 packets each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the the approval from the District Collector and help from the Tahsildar of Coimbatore North. Vegetables are procured from uzhavar sandhai and provisions from Anna Market. All food and safety norms are adhered to, he says.

The association’s 125 members are from Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruppur, Mettupalayam, Udumalpet and Pollachi. It has also set up Eedhal, a network that supplies surplus food from weddings, etc. to homes in Podanur and Ukkadam and to the homeless near General Hospital and the Railway Station.

You can contact the Eedhal helpline at 7711005060 or call Madhampatty Nagaraj at 98422-17449

Maheshwaran N.S. has just seen off a truck carrying a lunch of thengaai saadam and thattapayiru poriyal for over 100 people on duty at the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. “The health department staff and the police are camped at the border to screen COVID-19 cases. They are on duty 24/7,” said Mr. Maheshwaran, founder-president of Namma Navakkarai, an NGO located at Navakkarai village near Walayar where the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border lies. The volunteers set up a kitchen with ample provisions supplied from the Mavuthampathi Panchayat and farm-fresh vegetables from villages nearby. Donations have been pouring in says Mr. Maheshwaran. Someone donated 100 kg of atta, while another supplies enough milk to enable them make tea for the personnel. “This is just our way of showing gratitude to the people who are on duty to protect us,” he says. Shree Devi Textiles set up a centralised kitchen near its store in Gandhipuram, to serve nearly 6,000 people amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Its Managing director P. Sivaganesh, says the store employs 20 cooks and nearly 100 staff members to prepare and distribute nearly 2,000 food packets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “We are doing it in areas within the Corporation limits such as Saravanampatti, Rathinapuri, Avarampalayam, Siddhapudur, Podanur, Chettipalayam, Lawley Road and Sundarapuram,” he says. Vehicles from the District Administration and private NGOs pick up the food packets to deliver. Shree Devi Textiles gave a cheque for ₹1 crore to Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani towards the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.

Padmanaban Gopalan, founder of No Food Waste, and his team prepare and distribute 10,000 food packets from a kitchen in Town Hall, in association with Coimbatore Corporation and C4TN, an NGO. The team is made up of 13 partner kitchens run by restaurant owners, caterers, colleges and other social service organisations who call themselves the Coimbatore Corporation Emergency Food Response Team.

With the help of the Corporation, they distribute food to stranded migrant labourers thrice a day. The kitchen requires 250 kg of rice, 75 kg of dal and 75 kg of vegetables every day. Wholesale grocery vendors supply them with provisions and many others have offered to donate rice and vegetables. The team is now trying to identify people without ration cards to supply them with food kits that can last for 20 days.

BJP State general secretary Vanathi Srinivasan inaugurated ‘Modi’s Kitchen’ from Chennai. The party’s People’s Seva Centre aims to serve at least 500 people in need of food. About 15 volunteers and two cooks prepare and deliver the food packets from Gandhipuram. “If there is demand, we shall increase [the kitchen’s output],” she told The Hindu . People’s Seva Centre has collaborated with No Food Waste, and distributed the food packets in Vellalore.

The kitchen serves food only in Coimbatore city. In other parts of the district, party workers are functioning in a decentralised manner to distribute food packets. People’s Seva Centre has also distributed 8,000 hand sanitisers. Seva Bharati, an NGO affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has said that it distributed over 10,000 food packets in a day across the city amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

According to R. Ramanathan, State president of Seva Bharati, more than 100 volunteers are involved in preparing the food and distributing it among the needy, including migrant workers.

(With inputs from

K. Jeshi, Susan Joe Philip & R. Akileish )

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