Community kitchen, as a concept is critical for ensuring the food security of the vulnerable population. It is a gathering point where groups of people come together to pool their resources to cook large quantities of food. The main focus of this research thesis is to understand the concept of community kitchens and their operation in different social settings.
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This research also aims to understand the role of the government agencies (if any) in ensuring the food security for the communities (which is their primary responsibility). In the changing context of state relegating to a secondary position, initiatives by such private actors assume significance. By highlighting on two different case studies of organizations, we tend to unravel the process of community kitchens in separate social environments. With the help of participant observation, focus group discussions and in-depth individual interviews, this research is an exploration of the possibilities of food security through the concept of community kitchens.
Community kitchen is an institution where food is prepared by the members of a community in a collective manner. There are different models of community kitchens that exist around the social space. Generally it is observed that members of a community who prepare food are also the consumers of the same meals cooked collectively. However there are other models like Akshay Patra (our case study in the present study) where food is collectively prepared but distributed among the non preparers of the food cooked. Community kitchens aid the community in preparing affordable meals through a self sustaining institution. The purchase, preparation and consumption are more often than not done in a collective manner which makes the enterprise a cost effective and time efficient in nature. While meeting a community’s social needs, collective kitchens are a mechanism which provide financial, social and food security to the community members. Community kitchens are socially rooted institutions, they help in increasing the solidarity among the members of the community. Grace Campbell states “The formation and operation of community kitchens varies widely across communities and cultures and is largely dependent on the membership, yet each organization requires a well-equipped kitchen, willing participants, and initial capital.” Food security is a modern day challenge, which needs to be addressed at all levels of society. Community kitchens at local level provide access to affordable and nutrition rich food to the members of a community, which goes a long way in ensuring food security. Globalization, inflation, increasing gap between the haves and have not’s, are the major reasons which are keeping an average man food insecure. In such a scenario, this research aims to explore food security through the concept of community kitchens.
Food security is “a condition in which all people at all times can acquire safe,
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