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Tapping into the growing online food market, on July 11, Thrissur’s Viyyur Central Jail rolled out an innovative initiative to sell food prepared by inmates at the prison using an online food delivery company.
The idea to sell the food prepared by inmates online was conceived by Rishiraj Singh, Director General of Police (Prisons), Kerala considering the popularity of the food prepared by inmates among the common people for its quality and low price. Since 2011, the food prepared by the inmates – biryanis, non-vegetarian curries and bakery items, are being sold through Freedom Food Factory, a canteen managed by the prison’s inmates.
At present, the jail sells around 25,000-30,000 Rotis, 500-600 chicken biryanis and 300 vegetable and chicken curries a day at its counter stationed outside the prison. The jail also has a female wing, who prepares traditional Kerala snack items.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Nirmalanandan Nair, the superintendent of the Viyyur central jail, said: “A special menu has been decided for online delivery. Priced at Rs 127, the ‘Freedom Combo Lunch’ includes 300 grams of biryani rice, one roasted chicken leg piece, three chappathis, a cupcake, salad, pickle and one-litre bottled water.”
“Our initial plan is to sell about 100 combos a day. If there’s more demand, we will increase supply. Swiggy said that their men could deliver the food in a six-kilometre radius of the prison,” he adds.
Nair also said that around a hundred male inmates cook the meal under the supervision of prison officials. A new kitchen has also been built at the cost of Rs 50 lakh.
Unlike many prisoners who come out of jail with no means to support their livelihood, the inmates at the Viyyur Jail are paid Rs 150 as daily wages, and the revenue incurred from the food business is used to refurbish and maintain jails.
“This is not a profit-driven initiative; rather, it is to cater to people who are fond of the food prepared by the inmates here. We have also provided contact numbers on food packets to get feedback from the public,” Nair told The Logical Indian.
The state prison department has also proposed to open portals of one of its central jails for ordinary people to spend a night and feel how it is to stay in jail. Named as the ‘pay and stay’ initiative, it is planned as part of a unique prison museum coming up in the Viyyur Central prison.
Viyyur Central Prison had made headlines earlier as well, inspiring other jails, for its initiatives like Freedom Melody Radio and a band for the inmates.
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