The mood at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), a premier food lab under the CSIR, is buoyant as scientists, students and research scholars led by its director, Ram Rajashekaran, are working almost round the clock for the last two days to prepare as much ready-to-eat foods as they can to feed the hungry in the rain-hit Tamil Nadu.
Three pilot project units of grain science technology, fruit and vegetable technology and food science technology on the sprawling campus functioned almost non-stop to generate tonnes of foods to support the flood-relief operations.
The first consignment of packed foods weighing 4.5 tonnes and 5,000 tonnes of bottled water reached the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), a sister lab of the CFTRI, in Chennai on Friday morning. Six scientists from the CFTRI accompanied the consignment carried in a large truck. Over 30 volunteers from CLRI swung into action to distribute them.
The second consignment of 5 tonnes of packed foods along with 10,000 tonnes of water also left for Chennai on Friday.
They include chapatis, buns, rusks, cup cakes, roasted masala groundnut, corn flakes, wet and dry imli poha, tomato curry, energy food pack, sesame paste and puffed rice.
Mr. Ram Rajashekaran told presspersons on Friday that over 300 scientists, students, research scholars and staff took part actively in preparing the food. “We started at 2 p.m. on Thursday and finished the first task by 12 a.m. All of us worked in shifts of 8 hours each to prepare so much food,” he said.
The packed foods have a shelf life of three months but the date has not been mentioned on the packets purposefully to ensure they are consumed immediately.
The director said that special food had been prepared keeping in view the needs of children.
And these foods are in rich in energy such as bun with jam and butter.
In reply to a question, Dr. Rajashekaran said, “If required, we are ready to send more packed foods to TN. So far, we have done this much to support the relief operations.”
The two consignments of food sent from CFTRI on Thursday and Friday can feed over a lakh people.