As the humanity navigates the coronavirus pandemic, less privileged people all around the world are struggling to make ends meet. The situation has been particularly tough for migrant labourers, daily-wage earners and slum-dwellers during the lockdown as the sources of income have dried up.
With almost 7,000 cases of virus positive patients, Maharashtra is the worst hit state in the country. Now, many organisations have raisen to the occasion to provide food to the needy. ISKCON, among them, is the frontrunner.
“In and around Mumbai, we are feeding 1,20,000 people everyday. And we take this forward to Maharashtra, which includes Jarna, Pune, Maharashtra, and Aurangabad- we are feeding 2,10,000 people everyday," said Radha Krishna Das, Managing Director, ISKCON Food Relief Foundation.
The organisation, in collaboration with Annamrita Foundation, has taken up the cause of providing free meals pan-India.
"We have our presence in seven states, so if we take the all India figure, we are feeding 3,50,000 people everyday. We started it on March 25. In Mumbai, we have provided 21,15,120 meals, in Maharashtra 40,20,137 meals, and in India we have provided 86,12,536 meals,“ said Das.
He continued, “The most important need today is providing food. Because there are so many people including migrant labourers, people who are living in slums, for them it is very difficult to get food. Also, we were doing the mid day meals project, for which we had mega kitchens. Because of the pandemic, these kitchens were lying idle and we put them to good use."
"We are cooking large quantities of meals and we have partnered with NGOs like the Rotary Club of Mumbai, Queen's Necklace, Lion's Club, The Art Of Living, YMCA among others. They come to the kitchen and take the containers, do the transportation and go to the sites and do the distribution," said Das.
"The third leg, which is very important is the finance. While many have come forward, the major funds have come from the Reliance Foundation, who have pledged to supply all the raw materials required for the cooking, as long as we do the project,” he added.
With talks of tightening restrictions and extending the lockdown in Maharashtra due to the sheer number of cases, will ISKCON face challenges with the availability and distribution of food?
"We are working with the government, so we do get permission to enter those areas. Our vehicles are allowed to enter those areas. With the help of homeguards and police, we deliver in those areas,” said Das.
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