Sundargarh : Providing hygienic food at affordable prices to the general public while also achieving livelihood for Womenfolk – the ‘Utkal Kitchen’ initiative in Sundargarh reaps double benefit. This modern restaurant fully managed by Mission Shakti Women meets the daily fooding needs of the govt officials and visitors to the block headquarters.
The first Utkal Kitchen is operational at Kuarmunda block of Sundargarh district. The kitchen run by Sai Shradha Women Self Help Group (WSHG) members prepares breakfast, lunch, tea, coffee and snacks etc for the customers. The women also prepare dinner as per demand. The restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 7 pm. Snacks like vada, aluchop, idli, upma etc are served here; while at lunch, rice, dal, curry, chips, bhaja, saag etc and fish, chicken and egg etc are prepared here.
The Utkal Kitchen, an initiative of the district administration Sundargarh to augment livelihood of WSHGs, functions under Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM), Mission Shakti Department, Govt of Odisha. The SHG members are being trained to take up such non-traditional enterprises in order to connect them with diverse livelihood opportunities by expanding the canvas of their activities.
Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC) financially supports the Utkal Kitchen Unit at Kuarmunda. The Administration has the plan to open such units in remaining 16 blocks with support of District Mineral Foundation, DMF Sundargarh.
“Earlier the SHG women were limited to traditional work like making pickle, papads, Badi etc. But now they are being engaged in various unconventional and semi-technical fields. The operation of Utkal Kitchen in Sundargarh district has created a new livelihood opportunity for the women”, informs Project Director District Rural Development Agency Shri Bhairab Singh Patel.
“Utkal Kitchen serves us hygienic and affordable food in a healthy environment. I come here to have both veg and non-veg food. The SHG Women are very customer friendly,” shares Rajendra Behera, a regular at the Utkal Kitchen.
Special training is being provided to the SHG Women by the district OLM mechanism for the management of Utkal Kitchen. Emphasis is given on hygienic preparation and hospitality.
“Earlier, we made food only for our families. But now we cook food for various people and we are very happy to serve them. The initiative has helped ensure financial security for our families”, says Lily Sunani, President Sai Shradha WSHG.
Various food products, snacks and bakery items produced by local WSHGs are being sold at Utkal Kitchen. Similarly, the eggs produced at the poultry clusters of the block are supplied to this restaurant, thus establishing a linkage for the sale of various products of the local women.
The Utkal Kitchen at Kuarmunda engages 8-10 WSHG members while serving 100-150 customers every day. So, with the establishment of the 17 Utkal Kitchens, over 150 women will be ensured a livelihood and touch 2000-2500 people every day.