Kerala

Community kitchens winding up

For the hungry: The Thiruvananthapuram Corporation has decided to wind up its community kitchens. A view of a community kitchen at a school in the capital. S. Mahinsha

For the hungry: The Thiruvananthapuram Corporation has decided to wind up its community kitchens. A view of a community kitchen at a school in the capital. S. Mahinsha  

Those for relief camps, quarantine facilities will continue to function

For close to two months, since the nationwide lockdown began on March 24, hardly a person in Kerala has gone hungry, thanks to the community kitchens which were opened in every nook and corner of the State.

But, with grocery kits and ration benefits from the State government reaching almost all households, the civic bodies have begun shutting down a majority of the community kitchens, keeping open only those meant for relief camps and quarantine facilities.

On Sunday, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation decided to wind up its community kitchens as the numbers began dwindling. Now, only the kitchens meant for those in relief camps and for those in institutional quarantine will continue to function.

Similar is the case in several other local bodies.

Joint effort

The first of the kitchens had begun functioning soon after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown. Since then, these kitchens, a joint effort of the Kudumbashree Mission and the local bodies, have been serving food for free three times daily to the indigent who cannot get enough supplies for a meal, the bed-ridden who cannot move out of their homes and senior citizens who have no one to buy them supplies.

But, even though the kitchen was meant only for these categories, many others too began depending upon it. On some days, the larger urban local bodies were delivering more than a lakh food packets daily.

The community kitchens also served the thousands of migrant workers, who live scattered in various places. Kudumbashree workers, school mid-day meal cooks, local body officials and volunteers had worked tirelessly from 5.30 a.m to 7 p.m to keep these running.

Financial burden

The cash-strapped local bodies had increasingly found the community kitchens to be a major financial burden, but they kept it running as many were still depending upon it.

The two-month period also witnessed the society as a whole pitching in to keep these kitchens running. Several individuals and organisations came forward to contribute in cash and kind to these kitchens.

In April, the State government, in an effort to reduce the strain on the local bodies, announced the opening of more Janakeeya restaurants, providing affordable meal parcels at ₹25.

In the State Budget this year, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac had proposed the opening of 1,000 such restaurants across the State by Onam. With the pandemic outbreak, the opening of these were advanced, with hundreds of them already being opened across the State.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 12:23:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/community-kitchens-winding-up-operations/article31608283.ece

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