How Community Kitchens in India are Helping Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19

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SEATTLE — Government initiatives are having a powerful impact on mitigating the spread of COVID-19. However, small community kitchens have an impressive grassroots impact on improving the nutrition of high-risk communities and finding ways to deliver food while navigating Covid-19 precautions. In the face of COVID-19, these kitchens provide a safety net for communities at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

Community Kitchens Improve Community Nutrition and Immunity

Women’s self-help group community kitchens in India helped distribute food, facemasks and run food kitchens during India’s 40-day lockdown in April. Gayatri Acharya, the president of India’s National Rural Livelihoods Mission, explains that women’s self-help groups have grown due to partnership with the government. This growth has significantly helped more impoverished rural communities. In addition to running kitchens, women’s groups have also helped create personal protective equipment and masks. These groups have been able to develop 10,000 community kitchens throughout the country. They have also been able to bring meals for sick and quarantined individuals.

The ability to develop strong immunity is strengthened by good nutrition. Having a good diet is one of the most crucial elements of battling viruses because nutritional deficits and a lack of essential vitamins can create underlying health issues that can cause the virus to harm the human body. Additionally, proper nutrition is significant in shortening the recovery period for COVID-19. It helps maintain skeletal muscle and prevents metabolic problems.

Community Kitchens Use Delivery

Dabbawalas refers to a network of bike drivers in Mumbai who deliver food. The word “dabbawalas” literally means “those who carry the box.” They have existed for over 125 years. They pick up homemade meals and take those meals to workplaces. While they typically boast an efficient system, COVID-19 has thrown its success off course. Due to the closing of offices and trains, commuting routes were suspended. The Mumbai Dabbawala Association has stated that individuals are not ready to return to work because many drivers have left to quarantine in their hometowns.

However, Kerala has several open community kitchens that deliver food to the homes of quarantined individuals. All drivers have been instructed to follow correct procedures for cleanliness and safety. A telephone number was also distributed so that individuals could request food. It operates as a decentralized structure, which gives it more flexibility to reach more people. Additionally, the government is provided with food rations packets for those living below the poverty line. These services, which provide mailed and delivered food, provide a grassroots response to Dabbawalas’ absence.

Community Kitchens Help At-Risk Communities

Many individuals in India who have lost work as a result of COVID-19 have been able to rely on community kitchens as a reliable way to get food when they have limited options. When several workers who had traveled across states to lay pipelines became stranded because of quarantine, an entrepreneur named Shishpal Singh assisted them by forming a community kitchen. For the neediest and most desperate individuals, whether migrant workers or low-income native workers who have been trapped by the pandemic, food kitchens have been the single most crucial lifeline available for assistance.

– Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr

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