International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


ALL INDIA WOMEN'S FOOD COUNCIL: MADRAS STATE CENTRE
ANNAPOORNA CAFETERIAS

Srimati Mary Clubwala Jadhav, the Honorary Secretary of the All India Women's Food Council, Madras State Centre, and General Secretary of the Central Food Council, sends an interesting account of the efforts to popularize an economical vegetarian dietary throughout the country from 1949 onwards. During the 1940 famine in Madras, the Guild of Service co-operated with the Government in forming the Grow More Food Campaign for the formation of vegetable gardens everywhere, and in the popularizing of more and more wheat in the diet. Money was raised to buy powdered milk for needy children, especially in the Chingleput area where famine was rampant. Towards the end of 1950, the Guild obtained from the UNICEF and distributed large supplies of milk powder throughout the Districts.

In 1951, Smt. Lilvati Munshi, wife of the then Food Minister, Sri K. M. Munshi founded and became the Vice-President of the All-India Women's Food Council, whose object was the formation and running of cheap and nutritive Vegetarian cafeterias of Annapoornas where non-cereal foods could be sold. So were the public encouraged to taste and supplement their diet with non-cereal foods in place of the unavailable rice and short supply cereals during the famine period. The President of this Council was Smt. Ranbanshi Devi, wife of the President of the Indian Republic. The Tea Board gave assistance to this early effort. The Annapoornas ably helped the Madras Government of the day in popularizing wheat to supplant rice. Madurai also started a Food Council and runs excellent Annapoornas both in the heart of the City as well as the Technological Institute and temporary cafeterias at Courtallam during the season.

Four Annapoornas today exist in Madras: In the Government Estate, Mount Road, in the High Court Transport Corner, in the Madras Port Trust, and in the Presidency College. Annapoornas started in the Income Tax Offices and in the Express Estates had to close down due to heavy losses., While these cafeterias do not work for profits, at the same time they cannot run at a loss.

Recently with the aid of a loan of Rs. 2,500 by the District Social Welfare Association in Palamcotta, an Annapoorna and Food Council has been formed in Tinnevelly District with a special paid personnel. Annapoornas are also to be found in Bombay, Delhi, Poona, Cutch, Calcutta, Lucknow, and Ajmere. Annapoornas are run in the Janata Express between Bombay and Delhi. Institutions individuals, and government agencies all patronize the Annapoorna for its wholesome, cheap, nutritive, and tasty foods and many are the praises received. It has also taught the idea of "Self-Help," serving each patron from the counter rather than at the table. There is a very large demand for Annapoornas to be run in more and more Government offices. But unfortunately, due to the lack of finance, the Food Council is not able to undertake such ventures. There is no grant for Annapoornas, save that the buildings are occupied rent free. Otherwise licence fees, sales tax, etc. are to be borne by the Annapoornas. Whenever they do incur losses, as, for example, during the running of the Annapoorna during the Avadi Congress Session, due to lack of water facilities, they are plunged into a debt from which they are still striving to recover.

Another service rendered during the famine was propaganda from village to village with the assistance of the Nutrition Department of the Women's Christian College. Lectures and demonstrations in the vernacular were given on the value of the balanced diet and the consequences of the unbalnnced diet - in this way bringing to the attention of thousands of women the value of the non cereal and wheat products and teaching them how to prepare them. Mrs. Phillips, the Honorary propagandist, toured through the famine-stricken areas, giving hundreds of talks and demonstrations. This was a most successful period for changing the food habits of the people, though this particular activity had to be closed after the famine.

The Madras Centre has as its Patron Her Excellency, Mrs. A. J. John, Wife of the late Governor. The President is Smt. Shaluntala Subramaniam. Wife of the Hon. Sri C. Subramiam, Minister of Finance and Education. This Hon'ble Minister with Sri M. Bakthuvatsslam, Hon'ble Minister, are Patrons of the Food Council and take an active part in its programmes. Many of the canteen workers are voluntary and Smt. Clubwalla Jadhav, who, among her multifarious other duties, is Sheriff of Madras, thanks especially the following and others who have worked through long hours during Conferences, Exhibitions, and other functions:

Smt. Sunithi Srinivas Rao, Smt. Sanjeevi, Smt. Walawalkar, Dr. (Smt.) H.M. Sharma, Dr. (Smt.) Jayalakshmi A. Rao, Smt. R.A. Gopalaswami, Smt. Janaki Srinivasan, and Miss Getsie.