KOLKATA: For the past 109 days, a community kitchen, run by the students' wing of the CPI(M), is providing meals to over 500 marginalised people in Jadavpur- Tollygunge areas of the city.
The students, who have created a corpus to fund the initiative for lessening the hardship of the lockdown-hit people, have also found volunteers and contributors from outside the party fold.
A Students Federation of India (SFI) leader told PTI on Sunday that around 450 people in Jadavpur area are being provided with a lunch pack comprising rice, soyabean, egg at a price of Rs 20 as they are now unwilling to accept it free of charge with reopening of some economic activities.
Another 70 people are being given free meals at several distribution points in the belt covering a distance of over 2 km, he said.
"We are getting overwhelming support from professionals, businessmen and students," he said.
"Personalities like filmmaker Kamaleswar Mukhopadhyay, director Anik Dutta, music composer Debajyoti Mishra, actor Sabyasachi Chakroborty have come forward to support us both physically and financially.
"There are hundreds of others who are donating whatever they can. We have created a corpus on our own but we are also humbly accepting the donation of the common people as a mark of respect," he said.
A few days back someone donated Rs 10,000 for including chicken in the menu as it was his marriage anniversary, the SFI leader said.
A samaritan funded part of the special menu on another day to celebrate his daughter's birthday.
"Several days of a month are thus marked for such special treats by a number of people in the locality who shun celebrations and come forward to support the daily wagers hit by the lockdown," the SFI leader said.
The community kitchen was started by the SFI in the first week of April when Left activists realised that packets of food grains and other essentials were of no use to a majority of daily wage earners from neighboring states who did not have the provision to cook.
Prior to the lockdown, they used to solely depend on roadside eateries.
"We realised it will be better if they are given cooked food and so the community kitchen was set up near Jadavpur University. Soon three other community kitchens started in nearby places and together we started feeding 700- 750 people daily during that time," he said.
The number of people has come down to 520 now as some of them have left for homes with the commencement of bus services and some others beginning to earn again.
"They are doing praiseworthy work. The lockdown has shown how the students and youths can rise to the occasion to support the poor," Filmmaker Kamaleswar Mukhopadhyay said.
In another part of the city, the Left-wing students are providing free cooked meals to around 400 poor people in the Khidderpore-Watgunje belt every day.
"Our initiative has entered the 105th day on Sunday and we will run it in the coming days," another SFI member sid.
The SFI state committee member said, during the lockdown phase the Left-wing organisation operated as many as 500 community kitchens all over the state.