Impressed by ‘Saran model’, CM Nitish Kumar instructs block-level community kitchens across Bihar

Having taken a virtual tour of the community kitchens in Saran district, Bihar Chief Minister appreciated the arrangements and asked other districts to set up at least one community kitchen per block. Saran, with 20 blocks, is running 23 community kitchens to feed the poor during the lockdown.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: May 19th, 2021

The state government is running more than 300 community kitchens across 38 districts feeding about 55,000 people a day. Pics: By arrangement

Impressed by the fact that the number of community kitchens to feed the poor and hungry in Saran district exceeds the number of blocks it has, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered all districts in the state to set up at least one such kitchen per block to serve free cooked meals twice a day.

The state is under a complete lockdown since May 5 which is expected to go on till May 25. This has directly hit the livelihoods of poor and daily wage workers, increasing the risk of food security. To address this, since May 5, the first day of the lockdown, over 405 community kitchens have been set up across 38 districts in the state where over 609,219 poor, destitute and homeless are eating cooked meals. There is no need for any ID proof or the Aadhaar card to avail these meals. 

Saran district with 20 blocks has 23 community kitchens, where daily 2,833 people are eating hot meals consisting of rice, lentils and vegetables. Poor people, rickshaw pullers, and homeless men, women and children visit these kitchens to have freshly cooked meals. 

A community kitchen being run in a government school in Bihar.

“The chief minister appreciated our ‘Saran model’ of operating these community kitchens. There are 20 blocks in Saran district but we have set up a total of 23 such kitchens. The chief minister has now issued a directive to all districts to ensure one such kitchen for each block,” Saran District Magistrate Nilesh Deore told Gaon Connection.

Also Read: Over 300 govt-run community kitchens daily feed thousands of poor across Bihar in the lockdown

In an order issued by the state government’s Disaster Management Department on May 17, the 38 districts were ordered to set up at least one community kitchen in each block.

“These community kitchens should also provide food to the caretakers of COVID10 patients at the health facilities across the state,” the order mentioned.

Community kitchens serve hot meals twice a day to the poor in Bihar.

There is no requirement for the beneficiaries of the community kitchens to carry an ID proof like Aadhaar card or ration card to avail these free meals, which are provided twice a day. Anyone who is poor can walk in and eat a meal, which consists of dal (lentil), bhaat (boiled rice) and a vegetable. 

Also Read: In this gram panchayat in Bihar, villagers willingly come forward for COVID19 vaccination

“Community kitchens ensure meals to those who lost wages due to the lockdown. And being a welfare state, we are duty bound to take such innovative measures,” Deore told Gaon Connection.

Bharat Bhushan, additional district magistrate (departmental enquiry), Saran, informed that they are running these kitchens since May 5, the first day of the lockdown, and will continue to do so till the government order.

CM Kumar, in an address to the state on May 17 talked about the success of these community kitchens in helping people during the COVID19 lockdown. “I had a virtual tour of the community kitchens and talked to people who have been getting meals at these kitchens. They are pleased. In coming days we will try to extend these facilities to more people,” he said.

Also Read: COVID19 impact – 15 million salaried workers lose job permanently, women workers suffer worst

As on May 16, there were a total of 405 community kitchens in Bihar and a total of 609,219 people had eaten at these welfare centres. 

Bihar is no stranger to community kitchens. Being India’s most flood-prone state, the state government is known to have run community kitchens when floods displace millions. Last monsoon, community kitchens were set up in 16 flood-hit districts of the state.