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Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Kerala to open community kitchens, home deliver food for quarantined people

The community kitchens will be formed in each panchayat, where food will be prepared and home delivered to those under home quarantine and in hospitals

ERNAKULAM : Kerala on Wednesday announced an ambitious scheme to open community kitchens across the state, and home deliver food to those under quarantine, to prevent people going hungry during the ongoing lockdown, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.The community kitchens will be formed in each panchayat, where food will be prepared and home delivered to those under home quarantine and in hospitals. The move shall also benefit those who could not get hold of essential supplies in the lockdown, or locked out of supplies in the neighbourhood after panic buying. Those who distribute food must take care of all safety regulations, the CM said.

The number of people who needs the scheme will be taken in each village, said Vijayan. A telephone number will be given for people to reach out and ask for food. Local self-governments (LSGs) will devise the details of the scheme and appoints the cooks and volunteers, said Vijayan. He stressed that such schemes cannot be operated from a centralised location. LSGs in Kerala have empowered powers under a decentralized structure and are acting like a giant social-volunteer force already.

"The disease might push people into starvation. This should not happen in Kerala. Some might be reluctant to directly tell people that they need food. So we will float a telephone number which they can call," said Vijayan.

"No family should starve in Kerala. Steps will be taken for the welfare of the unwell and people with serious diseases like heart issues, cancer," he said.

On Wednesday, the state cabinet had also decided to offer a food kit, which will include rice and other essential groceries for free through ration shops. For instance, families falling under Below Poverty Line will get 15 kg of rice, which was earlier 10kg, along with the food-kit. For the distribution of groceries, the state has requested the cooperation of major grocery traders, said Vijayan.

"There is no need to panic-buy essential items. Food Corporation of India has informed that in their total 25 godowns in the state, they have stocks that can last to eight months. We want to procure groceries too along with this. So, apart from Civil Supplies Corporation and Consumer Federation (two state-run giants that are into retail sale of groceries), the state will ask the help of biggest traders of the land," Vijayan said.

Besides these, Kerala had already announced advance delivery of two-months social pensions for 54 lakh people and opening of 1000 food canteens in April, where meals subsidised to as low as 20.

All existing welfare programmes in nurseries, pregnant women and breastfeeding women will continue despite the lockdown, he said. Passengers stranded in the state will be given special accommodation and food, he added.

The first day of the center-announced lockdown on Wednesday went satisfactorily in the state, Vijayan said, urging that people should follow Prime Minister Modi's message to stay wherever they are.

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