Chennai: The State would soon open 500 more community eateries, named ‘Kalignar Canteens,’ over and above the 650 ‘Amma Canteens’ that are being run successfully to serve subsidized food to the poor and also free meals to the deserving at times of disasters, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of food and civil supplies R Chakarabani, who made this announcement at a consultative meeting in New Delhi on the model community kitchen scheme implementation, urged the Union Government to financially support the State’s initiative to fight starvation and malnutrition.
He said it cost the State Rs 3.5 lakh to run a single community canteen, adding that the Amma Canteens served meals to 1.5 crore people between June 1 and November 18. Among those beneficiaries were 30,490 migrant workers from other States, the Minister said.
He explained that the community canteens serving quality food at subsidized rates are now operated from the district headquarters with many of them located in the government hospitals and medical college hospitals where poor patients and their attendants benefit from their service.
The prices of the food items served in the Amma canteens are as low as Re one for an idly. Pongal costs Rs 5 a serving and a plate of variety rice (made of sambar or curry leaf or lemon) is sold for Rs 5. Curd rice costs Rs 3 a plate and 2 chapatis and dal come for Rs 3, the Minister told the meeting.
Seeking funds for the community canteens under the National Food Security Act, Chakrabani assured the meeting, attended by, among others, Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal, and listed out the steps taken by the DMK government towards food security.
Without any discrimination based on the socio-economic status of the beneficiaries, the government had been implementing a public distribution scheme for the past 40 years, he said.
When the present DMK government took charge, 2.09 crore family card holders were supplied each with a package of 14 provisions and groceries, which cost the exchequer Rs 978 crore, besides distributing Rs 4000 cash to each of the families as Coronavirus relief.
Coming January, during the Pongal festival, 2.15 crore card holders would receive a package of 21 condiments and groceries for the festival, the Minister said that the scheme would put the Government back by Rs 1161 crore....