Temple kitchens hand out food aid

Temple kitchens hand out food aid

Up to 914 temple-based rong than or soup kitchens have been set up across the country to cook meals for low income earners to ease their economic suffering caused by Covid-19.

With kitchens established in Bangkok and all 76 provinces, "270,000 people have been helped," National Office of Buddhism chief Narong Songarom said on Wednesday, referring to the success of the campaign initiated by the Supreme Patriarch.

Only temples with the capacity to serve a large number of people have been asked to join.

To date, 10.9 million baht has been spent preparing the meals. "That means the cost is around 40 baht per head," Mr Narong said.

Rong thans have played an important role, along with other state and private measures, in helping people cope with the financial crisis since the government decided in late March to restrict business operations in its war to contain the new coronavirus pandemic.

Thai temples overseas have also adopted the idea, with up to 550 rong than having been established abroad, according to Mr Narong.

The food is also being distributed to small temples affected by the partial lockdown, as monks avoid taking alms and people try to observe the government's stay-at-home directive.

Any food distributed in the campaign must be prepared under strict hygiene standards, and control measures will be taken to prevent accidental transmission as people wait in line for the food, added Mr Narong.

According to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Wat Rakhang Khositaram, a riverside temple opposite Tha Chang pier near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, can serve as a model.

"The temple takes care of more than 1,000 people every day," he said during a visit on Wednesday. "A rong than is not only a place to help poor people, it is also a channel for the well-to-do to make donations."

Tu pan suk, or "happiness-sharing pantries", which have mushroomed all over Thailand, also drew applause from the premier.

However, when he was shown footage of people scrambling to hoard food and drinks, he urged Thais to think more of the less-fortunate.

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