Amma canteens short of stock after Jaya's death

Cooks prepare 10-20% less food than intended target

Amma canteens short of stock after Jaya's death
Amma canteens in Tamil Nadu, which are known for providing food at subsidised rates to the poor, are facing shortage in supply of essential commodities. Though the canteens across the state continue to maintain the quality of food, limited supply of commodities such as dal, rice and other ingredients has forced the authorities to cook less in several parts of the city.

The Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) supplies rice, urad dal, toor dal and edible oil to Amma canteens on a regular basis. However, due to a lack of stock, it has not been able to supply the required commodities regularly. Opposition DMK has even staged a one-day strike against the shortage of essential commodities at ration shops, controlled by the TNCSC.

“We cook less these days due to the short supply of rice and other commodities,” an Amma canteen staff member employed in Nungambakkam area here said. According to him, each canteen, on an average, feeds almost 500 people a day in three shifts. However, at present, most of the canteens cook about 10-20% less than the target. Amma canteens are open from 7 am to 10 am, 12 pm to 3 pm and 6 pm to 9 pm everday.

“Though the canteen functions as usual, the food is sold out in a couple of hours,” he said. “I used to eat my lunch here at about 2 pm regularly. However, for the past few weeks, I have been forced to come by 12 pm since the food gets over soon,” K Reddy, a customer, said. Reddy said the quality of the food served here is on par with big restaurants. A senior corporation official said there were some issues with the supply of essential commodities to the canteens a few weeks ago. “However, the matter has been sorted out and the government has started supplying all the required items regularly,” he said.

Change in authority
To add to the woes, the city corporation, which incurs a loss to the tune of about Rs 100 crore per year on maintaining these canteens, wants to handover the eateries to the Social Welfare Department. Amma canteens, the flagship scheme of the late chief minister Jayalalithaa, was launched in February 2013.

An idli at these canteens is sold at Re 1. Likewise, mixed rice is sold at Rs 5 and chapati at Rs 3. At present, there are about 550 canteens across the state. Many states, including Karnataka, have visited Amma canteens to study the modalities and implement them in their respective states. Official statistics say Amma canteens sold a record 40 crore idlis and over 20 crore chapatis in 2016.

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