Project RASOI is an initiative by Humanity Welfare Council to promote community kitchen. To begin with, community kitchens are not only a food security measure for those who cannot fend for themselves (e.g., the elderly, ill, disabled, destitute, etc.). In fact, such initiatives are equally important for working people in urban areas (from rickshaw pullers to delivery boys who are on the road the whole day) as a source of inexpensive and nutritious food. This is amply evident outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi at meal times. The queues for free meals served by charitable bodies can be up to a kilometre long.
Such kitchens can also be viewed as a response to market failures where street food is concerned. Many urban poor do not have much option but to rely on street food. When there are price spikes (in recent times dal, onions before that), the poor are often the hardest hit. Community kitchens can provide relief at such times by offering food at fixed prices.
There are important gender dimension to community kitchens too. For instance, women are often burdened with providing packed food for working men. 88% of the clients were male. If men have the option of a decent meal at such canteens, women get some relief from the daily drudgery. This is similar to the idea of school meals, which relieve mothers from the task of cooking – first thing in the morning – for their school-going children.
In several states, community kitchens are run and managed by women providing them an independent source of income. Municipal corporations contract out locations to women's self-help groups. In Jharkhand too, where such canteens have made a modest beginning, women run the show.
Such kitchens help in the creation of democratic spaces much required in our deeply divided society. There is nothing like sharing a meal with people from diverse backgrounds to foster a spirit of togetherness.
The vision of Project RASOI is "No one sleeps empty stomach".
The mission of Project RASOI is to make "INDIA HUNGER FREE".
For more details Please contact us at RASOI@hwc.international.