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Utkal Kitchen, a new livelihood opportunity for women SHG in Sundargarh

Sundargarh: Giving livelihood opportunities to women, the ‘Utkal Kitchen’ managed by Mission Shakti Women in Sundargarh provides hygienic food at affordable prices.

The first Utkal Kitchen has been made operational at the Kuarmunda block of Sundargarh district. The kitchen run by Sai Shradha Women Self Help Group (WSHG) members prepares breakfast, lunch, tea, coffee, and snacks among others for the customers. They also prepare dinner as per demand. The restaurant is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm. Snacks like vada, aluchop, idli, and upma are served here; while at lunch, rice, dal, curry, chips, bhaja, saag, and fish, chicken, and egg are prepared here.

The Utkal Kitchen is an initiative of the district administration to augment the livelihood of WSHGs, which functions under the Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM), Mission Shakti Department. The SHG members are being trained to take up such non-traditional enterprises to connect them with diverse livelihood opportunities by expanding the canvas of their activities.

Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC) financially supports the Utkal Kitchen Unit at Kuarmunda. The administration is also planning to open such units in the remaining 16 blocks with the support of the District Mineral Foundation, DMF Sundargarh.

“Earlier the SHG women were limited to traditional work like making pickles, papads, Badi. But now they are being engaged in various unconventional and semi-technical fields. The operation of Utkal Kitchen in Sundargarh district has created a new livelihood opportunity for the women”, informs Project Director District Rural Development Agency Bhairab Singh Patel.

“Utkal Kitchen serves us hygienic and affordable food in a healthy environment. I come here to have both veg and non-veg food. The SHG Women are very customer friendly,” shares Rajendra Behera, a regular at the Utkal Kitchen.

Special training is being provided to the SHG Women by the district OLM mechanism for the management of Utkal Kitchen. Emphasis is given to hygienic preparation and hospitality.

“Earlier, we made food only for our families. Now we cook food for various people and we are happy to serve them. The initiative has helped ensure financial security for our families”, says Lily Sunani, President Sai Shradha WSHG.

Various food products, snacks, and bakery items produced by local WSHGs are being sold at Utkal Kitchen. Similarly, the eggs produced at the poultry clusters of the block are supplied to this restaurant, thus establishing a linkage for the sale of various products of the local women.

The Utkal Kitchen at Kuarmunda engages 8-10 WSHG members while serving 100-150 customers every day. So, with the establishment of the 17 Utkal Kitchens, over 150 women will be ensured a livelihood and touch 2000-2500 people every day.

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