The city Corporation will discontinue community kitchens by Wednesday, with the expected easing of lockdown restrictions and reduction in demand.
Though it was earlier decided to discontinue the kitchens from Monday, considering the relaxations in the tight controls after the weekend, the civic body authorities decided to extend it for two more days for the entire lockdown period.
Ever since the Corporation opened community kitchens on May 15, following the clamping down of lockdown restrictions earlier that month, as many as 3.6-lakh meal packets have been distributed from such kitchens opened in 10 wards. Parallel to this, food was also being distributed at a nominal cost of ₹20 from the Janakeeya hotels set up by the Corporation and operated by the Kudumbashree.
Nineteen Janakeeya hotels are being operated in the Corporation area currently. For the one month period from May 10, a total of 2.38-lakh meal packets were sold from the Janakeeya hotels with about 1.05 lakh of these being mid-day meal packets and the remaining almost equal numbers of breakfast and dinner packets.
“We had implemented a ₹60 package consisting of breakfast, meals and dinner. In the days of high demand, before the opening of the community kitchens, as many as 6,000 such packages were sold per day. Additionally, we also provided this ₹60 package for free to poor people before the opening of the community kitchens. Around 80,000 such packages were provided,” says a Corporation official.
With the opening of the community kitchens, the daily demand for the ₹60 package came down to around 1,500 from 6,000. When the community kitchens close down, the demand for these packages is expected to go up. Individuals and organisations have been contributing cash and materials for the running of community kitchens in the city.
The civic body had redeployed its employees including sanitation workers for the running of the community kitchens. While the food preparation, packing and cleaning of the kitchens were handled by them, the distribution was carried out by the volunteer force. Several of the Corporation’s activities including sanitation was affected due to the redeployment of staff for similar COVID-19-related activities.
During the first wave of COVID-19 too, local bodies across the State including the city Corporation had operated several community kitchens for two months to ensure that no one goes hungry during the lockdown period, which has witnessed the earnings of many sections taking a hit.