Madurai

Feeding the homeless amidst lockdown

A volunteer distributing food packet to an elderly person in Madurai on Friday.

A volunteer distributing food packet to an elderly person in Madurai on Friday.   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

On Friday morning, Nithya Mess, located near Anna Bus Stand here, was bustling with activity. Pots and pans clanged and aroma of tomato rice filled the air as a large number of volunteers were cooking, and arranging food packets in large containers. Later, groups of volunteers distributed these food packets to abandoned elderly, homeless and the underprivileged who were unable to feed themselves during the lockdown.

Around 400 volunteers, largely comprising youngsters, are part of ‘Maamaduraiyin Annavasal’. These youth have been cooking and distributing lunch everyday to around 5,000 homeless across the district since May 1. Preparation of food begins as early as 3 a.m. at 17 centres in the district. They prepare tomato rice, lemon rice, biryani and vegetable rice.

Madurai Member of Parliament Su Venkatesan, who initiated this programme and arranged sponsors, said that the urban poor were the most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Many of them are not covered by the public distribution system and are on the brink of starvation,” he said.

“The volunteers are the backbone of this initiative and they have identified the underprivileged and are regularly distributing food”, he said. “Through a decentralised structure, the volunteers ensure that food packets reach all the underprivileged in the city,” he added.

“Only after I began volunteering, I understood the immensity of hunger that was prevalent in the city. Though I cannot donate financially, I am contributing my time to help the underprivileged during this crisis,” said V. Ramamoorthy, a volunteer from South Gate.

Most of these homeless were dependent on hotels and annadanams (free food) provided at temples to feed themselves and the lockdown has deeply affected them, said R. Kavitha, a volunteer.

S. Saravanakumar, another volunteer who works in a private car company, said that for the past four days, since resumption of his office work, he has been distributing food packets during lunch breaks. “I do it because I know that around 100 homeless are dependent on volunteers to have their lunch,” he said.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 8:56:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/feeding-the-homeless-amidst-lockdown/article31652041.ece

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