State governments across the country have opened subsidised canteens and set up special community kitchens to provide food to the needy left without work because of the countrywide lockdown imposed to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials in West Bengal and Delhi said free meals were being provided to all at the night shelters, where the authorities have been asked to gather the needy for food twice a day.
The Kerala government said it is providing assistance to local bodies to set up community kitchens. “The prevailing situation is likely to lead to starvation among the poor and aged people. We will not allow this to happen. We will help the local and civic bodies to set up community kitchens to feed them,” said Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He warned wholesale dealers of essential goods against raising prices.
In states like Punjab, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, religious bodies, including gurdwara committees, have started free distribution of food packets for all.
The Jharkhand government has opened Khichdi (a mix of rice, pulses and vegetables) centres and has announced it will provide subsidised ration through the public distribution system in advance.
In Karnataka, the state government started distributing free food through the day for the poor and needy through 178 Indira canteens. Officials said the police have been asked to distribute free food packets only to the needy.
Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa on Tuesday said he is talking to the municipal corporations to see how cooked food can be supplied to homeless, and street vendors who have no fixed addresses and live on streets.
In Rajasthan, chief minister Ashok Gehlot said that free food packets will be given to street vendors, daily wage labourers and needy families. The packets are being distributed with the help of police, gurdwara and temple volunteers.
The Haryana government has announced financial assistance of Rs 1,000 per week to the poor working in the unorganised sector.