Anna Canteens in Andhra Pradesh, formed on the lines of Amma canteens in Tamil Nadu, is providing food security to its people.
The canteens were named after former chief minister N T Rama Rao (NTR), who introduced Rs 2 a kilo rice scheme in 1983. NTR was affectionately called “Anna” (elder brother). The Akshaya Patra Foundation runs these canteens.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu introduced Anna canteens on July 11 to feed the poor and daily wage earners. He inaugurated 203 Anna canteens in 73 municipalities, including 100 in 35 towns and 103 canteens in 75 urban areas. The canteens are serving over 2.15 lakh people daily.
Unlike a few government canteens that provide only lunch at an affordable price, Anna canteens offer breakfast, lunch and dinner for 900 people per canteen every day.
The Anna canteens received a tremendous response as it turned into a boon for poor and daily wage earners who are getting delicious food cooked in hygienic conditions and all for just Rs 5. Three square meals a day now costs them just Rs 15, which would otherwise have cost them around Rs 150 per day.
“You can benchmark these canteens internationally in terms of quality, cleanliness and hygiene… you name anything. Nowhere will you find such perfection,” Naidu had said during the inauguration.
Anna canteen was first started close to the interim government complex at Velagapudi in Amaravati. Construction workers and visitors depended on that canteen which in later days attracted even officials to have their breakfast there.
The government has also installed CCTV cameras in all these canteens to keep a tab on troublemakers and the “iris” based recognition system prevents people from misusing the food. Visitors are also encouraged to donate liberally to further expand the scheme. At present, rice, curry, dal, sambar, curd and pickle are served for lunch and dinner.
According to the state government, an allocation of Rs 200 crore was made towards Anna Canteens during 2018-19. In addition, the nutritional needs of 24.65 lakh children, mid-day meal to 36 lakh students, nutritious food to 6.11 lakh pregnant women under “Anna Amruta Hastam” and distribution of Rs 1 per kilo rice scheme through 20,000 fair price shops were made possible.