Tamil Nadu's Amma canteen runs amidst COVID-19 lockdown

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It was former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who opened the Amma canteen to provide subsidised food for the poor and the common people in the state. The canteens which serve delicious and nutritious food at unbelievably subsidized rates soon became a rage in all the major cities in Tamil Nadu.

At Amma canteen, you could get hot and fluffy idlis for just Re 1, filling sambar sadam for Rs 5 and a plate of refreshing curd sadam is served for only Rs 3. The Amma canteens are open even during the lockdown days so that the poor people can buy good quality food at low rates.

Recently, the workers at the Amma canteen at Chennai were in for a surprise when Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami stopped at the outlet to grab some breakfast.

The chief minister made a surprise visit to check the quality of the food and also to see whether social distancing is being maintained. The canteen workers welcomed the chief minister by serving him a plate of idli. Palaniswami who interacted with some of the customers, also asked them about the quality of the food. Besides, he inspected the cooking methods and the storage of ingredients.

The Amma canteens were launched in 2011-2016 when late J Jayalalithaa was the chief minister. Not just the poorer sections of the society, these subsidized canteens are a boon to the low income group as well.

However, the project has been badly hit by lack of funds lately. The government has been trying to rope in the corporate sector to support the canteens from their social responsibility fund.

The Amma canteen workers have demanded special packages for continuing working amid the lockdown, in line with the recently announced plan to pay an additional one month salary to the medical staff and the sanitation workers. The women workers at the canteen said that at present they are being paid a monthly salary of only Rs 9000.

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