KOCHI: The community kitchens set up by the government to provide food to street dwellers and people from financially-backwards sections who are hit by the lockdown, have raised their capacity to cook and distribute food from 2.5 lakh to 2.8 lakh packets daily. Till Friday afternoon, the kitchens distributed 33 lakh food packets.
Of the 1,255 kitchens across the state, 179 function under municipal corporations. The food packets are being served to the weaker sections, including migrant labourers, homeless people and the destitute rehabilitated under the Ashraya integrated project. A huge portion of the packets is being given free of cost.
The kitchens are run by local self-government bodies in association with Kudumbashree. Cooperative societies and voluntary organisations also form part of the all-Kerala mission, whose army of volunteers called ‘Arogya Sena’ (Health Army) work as members of local WhatsApp groups. The first set of such kitchens began functioning on March 26, a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced the plan to provide free food packets to the needy at their doorsteps. Other sections of the public can pay `20 per packet and Rs 5 as delivery fee.
With civic bodies responsible for amanging the kitchens, groceries are provided by the Civil Supplies Department. Kudumbashree is opening more Janakeeya hotels (people’s restaurants) and 238 of them are serving budget meals. A packet of rice, with two dishes and a pickle, is being delivered to houses of those who booked in advance.
“Going by the budget allocation for the current (2020-21) fiscal, we had plans to open such food joints serving meals for Rs 25. Owing to the lockdown, we brought down the price to Rs 20,” said S Harikishore, Director of the Kudumbashree, which has been granted Rs 23.64 crore for the mission. The community kitchens are also preparing breakfast and supper. The districts with the most numbers of community kitchens are Ernakulam, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur.
Covering all bases
Till Thursday, community kitchens served meals to 19.24 lakh people in the state
As many as 15,962 ward-level health committees, 15,962 Arogya Jagratha committees and 48,817 emergency response teams were pressed into service for Covid control activities, and delivering food, medicine and other essential commodities to those who are in isolation
Around 20 temporary labour camps have been identified in panchayats to house the migrant workers apart from the existing labour camps.