While Bihar is under a complete lockdown from May 5 to May 15, the state government is running community kitchens across all the districts to feed hot meals twice a day to the poor and the homeless.
The state government is running more than 300 community kitchens across 38 districts feeding about 55,000 people a day. Pics: By arrangement
Bihar government has put the entire state under a complete lockdown from May 5 to May 15 in order to control the COVID19 cases. A complete lockdown means loss of livelihood for many, especially the daily wager workers who are able to feed themselves and their families only if they work that particular day.
Keeping this in mind, the state government is running more than 300 community kitchens across 38 districts feeding about 55,000 people a day. A notice to this effect was issued on May 4 directing community kitchens to be set up at selected sites and cooked meals be served to the poor, beggars and homeless people. There is no need for any ID proof like Aadhaar card or ration card to avail these free meals, which are provided twice a day.
As of May 10, Patna district had 11,534 people consuming these meals, followed by 4,453 in Gaya and 2,851 in Katihar. And the numbers are rising fast.
On May 10 morning, there were seven community kitchens in Saran district feeding 504 people a day. As of today (May 12), it has jumped to 23 community kitchens feeding 2,775 people a day. Poor people, rickshaw pullers, and homeless men, women and children visit these kitchens to have freshly cooked meals.
“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,” Nilesh Deore, district magistrate and collector of Saran, 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.
The community kitchen do not require any ID proofs, such as ration card or Aadhaar card. Anyone who is poor can walk in and eat a meal, which consists of dal (lentil), bhaat (boiled rice) and a vegetable. “We keep changing the menu by offering different vegetables. For instance today (May 12), we offered soybean-alu (potato), as soybean is a rich source of protein and in the pandemic, people need to eat healthy food to fight the disease,” said Bhushan.
Bihar is no stranger to community kitchens. Being India’s most flood-prone state, the state government often runs community kitchens when floods displace millions. Last monsoon, community kitchens were set up in 16 flood-hit districts of the state.
“Apart from floods, last year when migrant workers returned during the lockdown, we ran these community kitchens at the quarantine centres,” said Bhushan.
But this is the first time that these kitchens have been set up to feed the poor across the state during the complete lockdown.