AAHAR’ treats hunger of the needy during lockdown days; Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation’s   initiative remains open during Raja festival too

Bhubaneswar: Despite the COVID-19 lockdown Aahar outlets across the Temple City continue to serve people in need. In line with the pandemic protocol norms the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities have considered opening of Aaahar centres in order to feed the needy, who are facing great difficulties in arranging their food.
Bhagabat Prasad Padhi (50), serving as an assistant in a private Ayurvedic store, a regular at Aahar centre says “I have no arrangement of getting cooked food here in the city. For me this is a great help as the price is affordable.’’
Lovely Sabar (15) a student from Capital High School, adds, “I belong to a poor family and for our family members the food from Aahar centre has become very essential during this difficult time.’’
Alok Kumar Das (22) an employee with a private security agency, says “during the lockdown and weekend shutdown getting food from outside and especially in affordable price is only possible through Aahar centres.’’
Considering the need of the citizens regularly depending on Aahar centers, the Civic authorities have kept opening of all 12 Aahar outlets in Bhubaneswar since May 5. Special protocol has been followed in managing the outlets. With this protocol only takeaway packs are allowed and no one is allowed to eat inside the Aahar centres. Cooked meals, duly packed at the centers are being provided to the beneficiaries after 11 am.
Out of the 12 Aahar outlets of the city five are near major hospitals. However, while three of them remain open in evening hour and shutdown saturdays, two Aahar centres near AIIMS Bhubaneswar do not provide service in evening hour and shutdown Saturdays .
Observing the lesser footfall during the lockdown, quantity of meals in each outlet has been restricted to prevent wastage of food. Based on consumption pattern in different outlets, meal quantity has been fixed for the lockdown days. While two outlets near AIIMS, Bhubaneswar serve 350 meals each, at Capital Hospital it is 450, at SUM Hospital outlet it is 400, at Chandrasekharpur it is 350, State Museum (inside BMC premises) 350 meals, Rasulgarh 400, City Bus Terminal Master Canteen 300, Nayapalli Durga Mandap center 350, Ashok Nagar – Unit 2 center serves 300 and Social Equity Center provides 200 meals during day time.
As provisioned, three Aahar centres nearby hospitals are providing meals during evening hours with fixed numbers of meals. Accordingly, centers at Capital Hospital, Chandrasekharpur near Kalinga Hospital and SUM Hospital serve 150 meals each. During the evening hours Aahar meals near hospitals are served between 6 pm and 8 pm.
During Odisha’s community festival Raja, Aahar centres usually prepare less number of meals as many people form Capital city remain absent to observe the festivity in their villages. But due to lockdown many people are unable visit their native places and are depending on Aahar meals. Hence by order of the BMC Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Singh, the Aahar Centres continue their services with approved numbers of meals during the festival days.
In shutdown (Saturdays)days also, Aahar centres near hospitals are with fixed number of meals. During day hours the BMC authorities have allowed to provide 150 numbers of meals in each Aahar centres nearby AIIMS, 250 in Capital Hospital outlet and 200 each in Aahar outlets nearby SUM and Kalinga Hospital. During evening hours in shutdown only three Aahar outlets at Capital Hospital, nearby SUM Hospital and Kalinga Hospital do provide 150 meals each.
Meal consumption report is being reviewed and regular discussion with the managing partner “Touchstone Foundation“ is done to decide quantity of meals in the Aahar centers. Recently, the number of meals at Chandrasekharpur Aahar centre was increased following such analysis.
Being a flagship programme of the State Government, since 2015, ‘Aahar’ has been serving its beneficiaries without any break. At present more than 4,000 meals are being served in all Aahar outlets of Bhubaneswar in a day. In order to observe COVID guideline meticulously, Commissionerate of Police has also been requested to deploy police in all Aahar Centers in the city.