Crowds thin as Amma Canteens stop free food – The Hindu

Restaurant News

The number of persons visiting Amma Canteen has dropped by over 50% with the Greater Chennai Corporation stopping the supply of free food.

On Monday and Tuesday, many people, who walked into the canteens, left without having food as they did not have the money to pay.

The average sales across the 407 Amma Canteen in the city, between April 23 and May 16, was around ₹3,000 a day. MLAs and NGOs picked up the tab for 62.89 lakh residents who visited the canteens during the period.

After the canteens stopped free services on Monday, the average sales in the canteens dipped below ₹1,500 from ₹6,000 a day. “We reported sales of ₹4,600 before the announcement of lockdown. The sales increased beyond ₹6,000 after the announcement of free supply of food. The sales reduced to ₹1,600 on Monday,” said an SHG member attached to an Amma Canteen.

Disappointed lot

Many residents returned disappointed from canteens across the 15 zones of the city on Monday.

An announcement of free food by the government on Tuesday triggered a rush at the canteens, but the free services had not started.

“Many residents in areas such as Mylapore and West Mambalam returned from Amma Canteens without having food. This indicates the level of poverty in the city. Daily wage labourers rely on free food in the Amma Canteens. They do not have any source of livelihood during the pandemic. The Corporation should not have stopped free food abruptly,” said S. Mangala Raj, former councillor. According to Corporation officials, the sales from March 24 to May 16 came in at ₹5.70 crore, with 1.10 crore people having availed themselves of the benefit.

About ₹2.9 crore was paid by MLAs and NGOs towards supply of free food to poor residents between April 23 and May 16.

“We will start free supply of food at Amma Canteens on Wednesday. The free food will continue until the end of this month,” said a Corporation official.

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