WithBengaluru’ collective delivers over 11,000 ration kits to the poor, asks CM to solve the larger crisis

WithBengaluru', a collective of individuals and organisations, has distributed over 11,000 ration kits to vulnerable people in Bengaluru during the lockdown. They have now asked the Chief Minister to take a specific set of measures, so as to tackle the food crisis.

WithBengaluru, a citizens’ initiative that came together to support vulnerable groups during the lockdown, has reached dry rations to over 11,000 families. The team has also written a letter to the Chief Minister, asking the government to use anganwadis, mid-day meal programme and the PDS effectively, and to transfer Rs 1500 per family to tackle the food crisis.

The national lockdown due to COVID-19 is having a huge impact on various groups of people. The lockdown is particularly detrimental to the millions of internal migrants, many of whom work in the informal sector and as daily wagers. The sustenance of such a massive population of stranded migrant workers requires a coordinated response from different sections of society.

‘WithBengaluru’ is an initiative by a collective of individuals and organisations to provide Bengaluru’s vulnerable groups with food supplies – both staples and cooked food. Its mission is to set up a supply chain mechanism by connecting volunteer organisations, individuals, and NGOs that work with low-income groups, to those who can provide rations and food, organise transport or donate. The collective identifies individuals who need help (through hyper-local community organisations), verifies and estimates their needs, procures supplies, raises funds, and uses technology for better planning and execution.

Hasiru Dala is the nodal agency of this umbrella organisation. It handles the day-to-day operations, supported by a bunch of volunteers who have been providing services way before the official national lockdown. Local NGOs on the ground include Swaraj Abhiyan, SJSK, Payana, Sparsha Trust etc. Funds for ration kits have been raised from the public using online crowdfunding as well as through grants from Wipro Foundation and HBS Foundation.

Rs 1.4 cr raised and over 11,000 ration kits delivered

The collective has raised Rs 1,47,82,860, and distributed 11,032 ration kits, as of April 14. We have also facilitated the supply of thousands of cooked food packets a day, from various sources, individuals, restaurants like Beijing Bites, Andhra Vantillu and Mitti Café, and organisations like Goonj, Rotary, Round Table, Mercy Mission, Atria Foundation, HUG, Gubbachi, Swiggy, etc.

Watch a Facebook Live video of ration kits being prepared and made ready for deliveries.

Given the magnitude of the problem, requests from those in need are pouring in from different quarters. The WithBengaluru team uses a Neighbourhood Dashboard portal developed by ReapBenefit (nd.solveninja.org) to map the needs across the city. WithBengaluru invites and encourages individuals, residential communities, NGOs and other organisations to find and support those in need using this website.

Based on our experience in the last few weeks, and given the scale of the food crisis, we ask Hon’ble CM Shri B S Yediyurappa to urgently implement specific measures listed in the attached letter. We will be meeting members of the Group of Ministers constituted by the  Chief Minister specifically to address these issues as well to share our experience and offer suggestions.

Specific demands laid out in WithBengaluru’s letter to Chief Minister

  • For those who are unable to cook: Free, fresh-cooked meals through open community kitchens involving street vendors, Self Help Groups / Free Cooked food through Indira Canteens, Anganwadis, mid-day meal kitchens, shelter home kitchens, etc.

  • For those who are able to cook:

    • For those with a ration card, in addition to the rice already supplied, provide dal, cooking oil, salt, jaggery, spices and soap through PDS. Ensure that PDS shops do not ask for Aadhaar and OTP to provide rations.

    • For those outside the PDS, supply a ration kit or allow them to draw rations based on temporary ration cards. The rations ought to last the entire family for at least 21 days from now.

  • Provide fruits, vegetables, eggs at vastly-subsidized rates through HOPCOMS, anganwadis and PDS. Children and pregnant women should be provided with eggs five days of the week.

  • All beneficiaries of anganwadis and the mid-day meal scheme must be given their full share of rations. Children who are malnourished must get their share of extra nutritious food.

  • Ensure adequate water supply through tankers, where the municipal water supply does not reach.

  • Mobile anganwadis should be set up in migrant colonies and in areas where not present.

  • Sec 42 (b) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act defines vulnerable groups as “children, adolescents, women, senior citizens, sick and the infirm, the disabled and differently-abled, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the religious, linguistic and sexual minorities, the bonded labour if any, nomadic and primitive tribal groups and migrant labour of society”

    • Door delivery of rations must be provided to these sections

    • Milk and milk products should be provided.

    • Marginalised groups must be provided meat at low cost. The government can purchase from farmers and pastoralists directly and provide this.

    • Provide Rs 1500 cash per family through PDS.

  • Ensure quick implementation of Ujjwala Scheme so that free cylinders are made available. Ensure that the poor who already use private gas can get their cylinders refilled for free.

We request the CM to appoint a Senior Officer to communicate with daily wagers, migrants, understand their needs, assure them of state support, and build trust.

[This article is based on a press release from WithBengaluru]

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