Seeking to ensure none was forced to starve, the Kerala government's 'Community Kitchens' became operational from Thursday to deliver free food to migrant workers, elderly, and those in home quarantine during the 21-day lockdown declared for fighting the spread of coronavirus.
The initiative is being implemented through local self-government institutions such as corporations, panchayats, ward-level committees and volunteers.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Wednesday announced his government had taken "extensive measures" to ensure that no one was left starving during the lockdown.
"Free meals will be delivered through the community kitchens to the needy and those in home quarantine", Thiruvananthapuram Mayor K Sreekumar said.
"Volunteer groups formed under the leadership of ward counsellors will ensure that elderly people who are living alone have access to food," he said.
Deputy Mayor Rakhi Ravikumar said the corporation would provide food to around 250 people.
The local self-government institutions have identified schools or other buildings to prepare food and engaged volunteers with enough safety precautions.
"We have also given strict instructions not to create a crowd of more than five persons while cooking food," a senior official from Malappuram district, where the authorities have opened 104 community kitchens, said.
The officials said those who need food should inform the authorities a day before in order to smoothen the delivery process.
"The delivery is free," Sreekumar said.
In Thiruvnanthapuram, initially, the food will be provided for the homeless people, who have been accommodated in shelter homes by the government after the spread of coronavirus, which has affected over 100 people in the state.
A community kitchen has been opened at a government school in the capital city.
Sunitha, a teacher-cum-volunteer, said in the morning "upama" was prepared while for lunch meals had been prepared.
In Malappuram, the all-women initiative 'Kudumbashree' has launched the 'community ktichen' not only to feed the destitutes but also provide food for the staff of essential services.
Over 1.2 lakh under observation; 19 new cases reported
Kerala reported 19 more positive cases of coronavirus on Thursday, taking the total number of infected people under treatment to 126, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Kannur accounted for the highest number cases on Thursday with nine, while three cases each were from Kasaragod and Malappuram districts, followed by two from Thrissur and one each from Idukki and Wayanad, he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram after a COVID-19 review meeting.
He said more than 1.20 lakh people are under observation in the state. The Chief Minister welcomed the relief package announced by the central government to mitigate the sufferings of people in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
Also, catch all the latest updates and developments on the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic and 21-day lockdown with CNBC-TV18.com's blog