Group of 8 Food secretaries to create national policy for community kitchens

No food shortages, starvation deaths during COVID: Piyush Goyal

Published - November 25, 2021 10:23 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A community kitchen being run. File

A community kitchen being run. File

With the Supreme Court’s three week deadline looming, the Food Ministry on Thursday formed a group of eight State Food Secretaries to create the framework for a community kitchens scheme.

At its last hearing on November 16 on a petition regarding starvation deaths, the apex court had questioned the government’s commitment to run community kitchens, saying the first responsibility of every welfare state should be to provide food to people dying of hunger.

The petition had urged the formation of a national food grid as well as a community kitchens scheme to ensure that “no person should sleep on an empty stomach” and rued that there is no official data available on death of persons owing to starvation although India accounts for almost a quarter of the world’s hungry people. The court pulled up the Centre for its lack of progress in framing a national policy to run community kitchens in consultation with State governments, including funds required, and gave it a three week deadline to do so.

Addressing a meeting of State Food Ministers, Food Minister Piyush Goyal said “it was a huge achievement that even during the peak of COVID-19, [the government] did not allow any food shortages to occur”, crediting the success of the Centre’s free ration scheme. According to an official statement, he added that as a result of collective efforts, no case of death due to starvation has been reported during the pandemic.

Setting up the group of Food Secretaries, Mr. Goyal said a new community kitchen scheme needed to be simple and transparent and build on the four pillars of quality, hygiene, reliability and the spirit of service. The group will be headed by the Food Secretary of Madhya Pradesh and also include the Food Secretaries of Kerala, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Assam, Bihar, and West Bengal. It will next meet virtually on November 29 to deliberate on the proposal.

The Minister emphasised the need to distribute quality food grain to deserving beneficiaries on the basis of need, for “a focused and identified set of people who are vulnerable especially women and children including homeless, slum dwellers, workers on industrial and construction sites”.

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