“It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him suffer from hunger when one has a chance of coming to his assistance.”
A society is who it is made up of. Over the past year, people have been looking for different ways to be of assistance to those in need. From turning a community hall into a quarantine centre to finding out creative ways to teach students, the pandemic has brought to light new meaning to life.
Food, among all the other necessities, was a challenge for many to have access to. However, during these unprecedented times, India’s real-life heroes came forward and fed the hungry.
In today’s special, PBNS salutes all, who rose to the occasion and gave mankind’s inspiration for generations to come.
**Cooking for all with community kitchens**
Regardless of one’s religion, different communities like the Dawoodi Bohra distributed food packets and medicines to people living in slum areas in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
With the help of women in the self-help groups (SHG), state governments provided food to the poor and vulnerable in rural areas during the Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020.
10,000 community kitchens were set up across five states, namely, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha. These kitchens provided meals twice a day to nearly 70,000 individuals across 75 districts. Among them are Kerala’s Kudumbashree, Odisha’s Mission Shakti, Jharkhand’s Mantri Didi Kitchen, to name a few.
**Religious institutions came forward**
Religious institutions, be it mosques, temples, gurudwaras, or churches, have been engaging in covid relief activities, including food availability for the needy.
Last year, a mosque and a gurudwara in Delhi had joined hands to feed migrant workers when the lockdown began. This year, other institutions have also taken the lead.
This year, the pious Nizamuddin Dargah distributed 1,000 food packets to people for iftar during the month of Ramadan. They continued the langar services but distributed the food in packages before iftar in nearby areas.
Patna’s Mahavir Mandir Trust closed the doors for the worshippers but opened them for the poor. It distributed food packets and groceries to the needy at several places in Patna, Sitamarhi, and Ayodhya. Ram rasoi, Sita rasoi, run by the trust in Ayodhya have been feeding thousands on a daily basis.
ISKCON temples in Gurugram and Dwarka have been providing cooked meals to covid affected families during the second wave of Covid-19. Last year during the lockdown, ISKCON Delhi distributed five lakh meals per day.
Fr. Davis Chiramel in Kerala under his project Hunger Hunt has been distributing around 20,000 food packets to care homes across the State on the first day of every month since January 2021.
The Sikh community is known for their king-sized heart, who on normal days organise langars and provide community services. During COVID-19 too, the community has been organising langars that are open for all.
The Sikh Gurudwara Community in New Delhi, in addition to langars, has been delivering packed cooked food to covid patients quarantining at their homes. Similarly, the Sadh Sangat Gurudwara and Gurudwara Behala of Kolkata pledged to not let anyone go hungry during the lockdown.
**Tibetan Community in India**
Tashi Lhunpo, a monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, in addition to donations, distributed a month’s worth of ration to poor households and members of the police in the district. Similarly, Kagyupa International Monlam Trust, Bodh Gaya, distributed dry ration to 1,000 people last year during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Student organisations too, across the country have not left any stone unturned despite their uncertain future. Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, in areas of Mumbai, distributed around 1,000 food packets to people last year.
Paritosh Pant from Feeding From Far tells PBNS that they aim to eradicate hunger through community engagement.* And COVID-19 gave them just the opportunity.* The NGO has been feeding the poor and the unemployed who are struggling to feed themselves during the lockdown. They have managed to distribute over 10 lakh meals since the first lockdown through cooked meals and ration kits in Mumbai and Govandi.
Similarly, Enrich Lives Foundation (Mumbai) which was founded during the COVID-19 in 2020, distributed food grains, meals, and other grocery kits to the people worst affected by the lockdown.
Akshaya Patra has been feeding families affected due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Through its network of kitchens, the foundation has been arranging for food relief kits to be distributed to as many people as possible in Bengaluru and other locations. These kits are prepared with dal, chana, sunflower oil, species, and pickles, vegetables, etc. Moreover, one kit is sufficient to prepare two meals a day for an adult for about 21 days. It has so far raised Rs 1,22,789 through donations and currently aims to reach Rs 5,00,000.
Khaana Chahiye (Mumbai) provided 1200 meals, Mazdoor Kitchen (Delhi) has been feeding the daily wagers, Sahara Aalhad feeds the slum dwellers, and there are several other non-profit organisations that have been involved in this noble cause since the lockdown first began.