Kozhikode has once again showcased its humanitarian face by launching a new initiative, under which one can sponsor free meals for the underprivileged without both the parties knowing each other!
While many similar initiatives have been undertaken across the country, what makes the initiative noteworthy is that these meals are prepared by inmates of the district jail.
‘Share Meal’ is a project of Kozhikode District Jail, which is spearheaded by Jail Superintendent K. Anil Kumar.
Initially introduced at Ernakulam’s jail when Kumar was stationed in the city, he made sure to carry the compassionate deed forward when he got a transfer to Kozhikode.
“The project was launched on October 23 and has become a big hit in just one week. Many organisations and individuals have already come forward offering bulk orders,” Jail Welfare Officer Rajesh Kumar T, who is monitoring the project told The Hindu.
The initiative works on the system where one can sponsor the meal by purchasing coupons worth ₹25 available at the ‘Food for Freedom’ counter outside the jail and would remain anonymous to the person who receives that meal.
In turn, the hungry and underprivileged folks can avail the sponsored coupons, which will be stuck on the pinboard outside the same counter and feed themselves.
A typical meal packet consists of five chapatis along with a vegetarian or non-vegetarian curry.
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The initiative has become a big hit amidst the people in the city. “Most people purchase single coupons, though there are people who purchase coupons in bulk too. We sold coupons worth ₹25,000 on an inaugural day,” Rajesh Kumar proudly added.
In scenarios where the sponsored coupons remain untaken, the jail authorities ensure that the effort does not go wasted and supply institutions orphanages, old-age homes or hospitals with the food. One of the important aspects to be noted is that the food cooked for the initiative is not same as that prepared for the inmates and is prepared exclusively for the purpose.
Though the initiative is remarkable for its inventiveness, this isn’t the first time that Kozhikode has united in support of the underprivileged in its lap.
In April 2015, a free food programme by the name ‘Operation Sulaimani’ was introduced by the district administration and Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association where free meals are offered to all those who couldn’t afford a meal across restaurants in the city.
The intention was to ensure that no one in Kozhikode goes hungry on account of an empty or even lost a wallet.
The ‘Food for Freedom’ counter, which previously used to sell chapatis made by the inmates, has other things to offer as well. Besides the food prepared for Share Meal, items like cement flower pots, paper carry bags, phenol, detergent powder and car wash which are made by the inmates can be purchased here.