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What is Community Kitchen; How it is Helping Mitigate The Food Security Crisis Triggered by COVID-19?

Dimple Gupta
Dimple Gupta
Community Kitchen helping mitigate food security crisis

A community kitchen is a group of people meeting on a regular basis to plan, cook and share healthy and affordable meals. Community kitchen groups are for everyone and can be run anywhere there is a kitchen, for example – churches, schools, neighborhood houses, community health services, workplaces, and men’s sheds, etc. 

Few key features are essential in running a community kitchen, as they allow groups to bypass strict food safety legislation and ensure an empowerment and capacity building model and welfare model. Some of them are listed below –  

  • Held on a regular basis, like – weekly or fortnightly

  • All the participants are actively involved in planning, preparation, and cooking food

  • Prepared food is shared among the participants and/or members of their household

 Benefits of a Community Kitchen  

  • They increase access to healthy meals

  • Help community to develop life skills such as growing fresh food, budgeting, and meal planning, cooking, and social skills

  • They support members of the community to connect and start new friendships

Small community kitchens have an impressive grassroots impact on improving the nutrition of high-risk commodities and finding ways to deliver food while navigating through Covid-19 precautions. These kitchens have provided a safety net for communities that are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Improve Community Nutrition and Immunity 

In India, women’s self-help group (SHG) community kitchens have helped in the distribution of food, facemasks, and run food kitchens during India’s 40-day; lockdown in April. Gayatri Acharya, who is the President of India’s National Rural Livelihood Mission, said that – “women’s self-help groups have grown due to partnership with the government. This growth has significantly helped more impoverished rural communities.” Besides running these kitchens, women’s SHGs have also helped in creating personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and masks. These groups developed around 10,000 community kitchens throughout the country. They have also been bringing meals for sick and quarantined individuals. 

Good nutrition helps in developing strong immunity. Having a good diet is one of the most crucial elements in battling viruses because nutrient deficiency and lack of essential vitamins can create many health issues that can cause the virus to harm the human body. Proper nutrition is significant in shortening the recovery period of COVID-19, and it also helps in maintaining skeletal muscle and prevents metabolic problems. 

Community Kitchens Use Delivery 

Dabbawalas in Mumbai is a network of people who deliver food. The Mumbai Dabbawala Association is in existence for 125 years. They pick homemade meals and take those meals to workplaces. They typically self-praise an efficient system; COVID-19 has pushed it off its course. Commuting routes were suspended due to the closing of offices and trains. The Association stated that individuals are not ready to work because many workers have left to quarantine in their hometowns. 

But, Kerala has many open community kitchens that deliver food to the homes of quarantined individuals. All drivers were following the correct instructed procedures for cleanliness and safety. Individuals could request food on a telephone number. Operating as a decentralized structure it is more flexible and reaches more people. The government also provided food ration packets for those living below the poverty line. These services providing mailed and delivered food, provide a grassroots response to Dabbawalas’ essence. 

Community Kitchens help at-risk communities 

As a result of COVID-19, many individuals who lost their livelihood have been relying on community kitchens as a reliable source to get food when they have limited options. Many workers who had traveled across states to lay pipelines were stranded because of quarantine Shishpal Singh; an entrepreneur assisted them by forming a community kitchen. Whether migrant workers or low-income native workers, for the neediest and most desperate individuals, trapped by the pandemic, community kitchens have been the single most crucial lifeline available for assistance. 

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