- Tamil Nadu imposed 12-day strict lockdown to fight COVID-19 in 4 districts
- Amma canteens are providing free food to those in need
- Amma Canteen is a food subsidization scheme run by the state government
New Delhi: The state of Tamil Nadu has re-imposed a strict 12-day lockdown in four districts- Chennai, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Tiruvallur, in order to tackle the rising cases of COVID-19 from June 19 to June 30. In the view of this, Amma Unavagam, popularly known as Amma Canteen, has stepped up to provide relief to the poor and needy by distributing free food during this period. Amma Canteens are the state-run food outlets in Tamil Nadu that serve food at low prices with an aim to ensure food security. According to an official of the Greater Chennai Corporation, nearly 10 lakh people are expected to get food in over 400 Amma Canteens every day.
Tamil Nadu: Amma Canteen in Chennai's KK Nagar area is distributing free food amid #COVID19 outbreak.
Amma canteens will provide free food under Metropolitan Chennai Police limits during lockdown between June 19 & June 30 following state government's order. pic.twitter.com/IzBvFYos6d
— ANI (@ANI) June 21, 2020
While talking to NDTV about the state’s initiative to provide free food, the official said that various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have offered to donate food and relief material and MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly) are also chipping in after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced on June 18 that Amma Canteens will be providing free food to the needy people in four districts during the 12-day lockdown. The official said,
The aim is to provide relief to the economically weaker sections in Chennai and surrounding areas since the lockdown has hit the migrant workers and daily wage labourers the most. Also, there are students and elderlies living alone who need support. Through Amma Canteen, we provided free food earlier also when the nationwide lockdown started and now again as the strict lockdown has been re-imposed. This is the time we all should come together and make sure that no one goes hungry. Hunger also reduces immunity of the body and thus making the poor more vulnerable to the pandemic.
He further added that Chief Minister Palaniswami has also asked community halls to cook and distribute food to the senior citizens and needy to their homes.
Tamil Nadu: Amma canteen in Chennai's Chetpet is distributing free food amid #COVID19. Ponnusami, a watchman says, "Due to lockdown many hotels got closed. This measure by the govt is great and helpful. We thank the Tamil Nadu government." pic.twitter.com/rcdbJ981z4
— ANI (@ANI) June 20, 2020
Amma Canteens have been playing an important role in providing relief to the needy since the start of the pandemic. It had distributed free food during the lockdown period till May 31. After that, it stopped distributing the free food but continued providing food at subsidised rates. Now, again it has started providing food at free of cost to help the poor cope with the pandemic.
The food served in Amma Canteens is primarily South Indian Food including idli, sambhar, rice, curd rice, Pongal, lemon rice and curry leaf rice. During the normal day, the dishes are offered at low prices: Rs. 1 for an idli, Rs. 5 for a plate of sambhar rice, Rs. 5 for a plate of curry leave rice and Rs. 3 for a plate of curd rice.
Amrita Johri, an activist associated with Roti Rozi Adhikaar Abhiyan, a people’s movement working for the rights of the daily wage workers and urban poor, said that initiatives involving community kitchens to provide cooked food at a lower cost or free of cost like Tamil Nadu’s Amma canteens, Karnataka’s Indira Kitchen, Telangana’s Annapurna meals, Odisha’s Ahar Yojna and Maharashtra’s Shiv Bhojanalyas are a more effective solution to food security issues among seasonal migrants.