The coronavirus outbreak has led to a pan-India lockdown that has left many in the lurch. People have been urged to stay at home and practice social distancing, while most public spaces as well as non-essential stores and other outlets have been shut.
However not everyone has the same luxury. In Mumbai, the Annamrita Foundation (formerly known as ISKCON Food Relief Foundation) has stepped in to supply food to those who continue working in various Municipal Wards and in hospitals even as the rest of the city remains under lockdown.
The nonprofit, non-religious organisation has long had a mid-day meal program for schools across the busy city. Since 2004, they have been serving 24 Wards under the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. "Everyday around 65,000 children are beneﬁting mid day meals from over 450 schools," the organisation says.
Over time, the organisation had also set up 21 state of the art kitchens in 21 places in India and has served up to 12 lakh meals daily.They provide nutritious, satvik food prepared in the Annamrita kitchens. On a daily basis around 15,000 municipal employees partake of this food.
"Our state of art kitchens complies with all FSSAI norms and is certiﬁed with ISO 22000:2005. Our kitchens are always dedicated towards high quality, nutrition, cleanliness, hygiene and timely delivery to schools under all circumstances," the foundation adds.
Not only that, the foundation also serves meals to in-patients at two Mumbai hospitals. To give a bit of context, this involves over a thousand patients daily from the Dr R N Cooper Hospital in Vile Parle and the GTB Hospital in Sewri.
They have also joined hands with a few other donors to provide meals to the healthcare staff at several Mumbai Hospitals. This includes the BYL Nair Hospital, Kasturba hospital, Maa Hospital in Chembur, Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi, Dr R N Cooper hospital and GTB Hospital.
The COVID-19 outbreak has posed a new challenge for the foundation to undertake. The organisation now serves lunch to all the municipal wards daily, aided by a team of cooks, helpers, supervisors and drivers.
They however are quick to assure that the food is safe to consume, with WHO-recommended guidelines being followed.
"As per the guidelines of WHO, proper food handling techniques are being implemented using masks, hand glovessanitizers as well as social distancing and personal hygiene," Annamrita clarifies.
The Foundation also plans to begin serving food to needy people in the Malvani, Dharavi and Govandi areas, as well as those stranded in the city due to the lockdown.
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