SC Issues Notice For Establishing Community Kitchens

  • Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) agreed to examine a plea that starvation deaths continue to eat into the right to life and dignity of social fabric and a “radical” new measure like community kitchens need to be set up across the country to feed the poor and the hungry.
  • According to the petition, State-funded community kitchens was not a novel concept in the country and it has urged National Legal Services Authority to formulate a scheme to further the provisions of Article 51A of the Constitution of India in order to mitigate deaths resulting from hunger, malnutrition and starvation.
  • It also referred to how Rajasthan's Annapurna Rasoi, Indira Canteens in Karnataka, Delhi's AamAadmi Canteen, Anna Canteen in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat, Tamil Nadu's AmmaUnavagam and Odisha'sAhaar Centre were combating starvation and malnutrition crisis.

Current Scenario

  • According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2019, 194.4 million people are undernourished in India. By this measure 5% of the population is undernourished in India.
  • Food and Agriculture Report, 2018 stated that India houses 195.9 million of the 821 million undernourished people in the world, accounting for approximately 24% of the world’s hungry. Prevalence of undernourishment in India is 8%, higher than both the global and Asian average.
  • According to theNational Health Survey (NHS),2017, approximately 19 crore people in the country were compelled to sleep on an empty stomach every night.
  • Moreover, approximately 4500 children die every day under the age of five years in our country resulting from hunger and malnutrition, amounting to over three lakh deaths every year owing to hunger, of children alone.
  • There are statistics available for malnutrition deaths in children and adults in the country;however, there is no official data available for death of persons owing to starvation.

Community Kitchens

  • Community kitchens are institutions that provide cheap or free nutritious food as a service to the general public usually run by religious institutions or by the state. These are viewed as a complement to the existing schemes of the Government for combating hunger and malnutrition in India.

Examples of Community Kitchen

  • Tamil Nadu's AmmaUnavagam: Launched by late J. Jayalalithaa’s government in Tamil Nadu in 2013, it is a food subsidisationprogramme to provide low-cost quality meals to the public at large.
  • Anna Canteen, Andhra Pradesh: It was launched in 2018, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at Rs. 5 each to the poor and middle class people. However, it was closed down by the current ruling YSRCP government in August, 2019.
  • Annapurna Rasoi Scheme, Rajasthan: It was launched in 2016 to provide quality meal at cheap price to poor and needy on lines with Tamil Nadu Government’s Amma canteens.
  • Odisha'sAhaar Centre: Launched in April 2015, the scheme guarantees cooked rice and dalma at Rs. 5 at places of public congregations in the urban areas.

Benefits of Community Kitchens

  • Employment Generation: One immediate benefits of CK is the creation of employment especially for women and other vulnerable sections of the society and help in breaking the cycle of constant of poverty. As a part of the Self Help Group(SHG) network, the women are helped to come together in groups to undertake safe livelihood activities so that they do not have to engage in manual labor to earn a living during this vulnerable period.
  • Measure to Food Security: The concept of CK will also act as a measure of food security for elderly and disabled and would effectively tackle the malnourishment in children.
  • Reduces Corruption: It helps in the elimination of the middle man which reduces the probability of corruption.