Maintaining that the Rotary Aahar Kendre, an RC Mandsaur, D 3040,initiative, distributed the much needed free food packets to the public during the 1992 curfew, an aftermath of a communal riot in the region, Rtn Mahendra Thakar from this club says, “It is the best Rotary service our club has done so far.” Everything about the aahar kendre (food centre) is the same except the price per food packet which has risen to Rs 5 from Rs 2, but yet a modest price for a meal with four chapattis, two types of daal and a sabzi.
Housed inside the Government Hospital at Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, this place was set up by the club to feed the attendants of patients, “who most of the time went to bed hungry,” says Thakar. The issue was first raised by Dr Sardar Mal Thakar, a member of the club, who realised that there was no provision for the attenders to buy a meal at the hospital. Being the only hospital that caters to 21 remote villages “there was no way they could go back home to eat or pack food for three to four days at a stretch.” So funds were raised and in 1991 the centre was established.
Rekha and Madhu, the cooks at the aahar kendre have busy mornings. Washing, chopping, and soaking don’t seem as tough as kneading the dough for 300 chapattis every day. “Roti naram aur garam ho toh hi mazza ata hai (only when the roti is soft and hot does it taste good),” says Madhu. The club also takes care of the welfare of these two women. “We get a salary of Rs 2,000 and three meals a day, which is more than enough,” says Rekha.
By November 2016, the aahar kendre had distributed nearly 6 lakh packets of food. After its success, many other Rotary Clubs are replicating this project.
In November 2016, during the 25th anniversary of the club, it was announced that the aahar kendre had distributed close to six lakh food packets and after its success, Rotary clubs of Sagar, Ratlam, Khargone and Nimchi in District 3040 have decided to start aahar kendres of their own. “This is a remarkable achievement for us. The world needs sustainable solutions to root out hunger, illiteracy and violence and Rotary is finding the best answers,” says Thakar.