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Indonesia: Food stalls offer free meals amid COVID-19

Low-income workers need to leave home to earn a wage, but their earnings have dropped since coronavirus spread

Hayati Nupus   | 27.03.2020
Indonesia: Food stalls offer free meals amid COVID-19

JAKARTA, Indonesia

Dozens of small food stalls in Indonesia are offering free lunches to help people who are financially struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The food stalls, locally known as Warung Tegal, referring to their origin in the city of Tegal in the Central Java province, sell various kinds of side dishes at affordable prices.

The Amanah stall in the city of Depok, West Java province, is one of them.

On Friday, the stall was crowded with daily wage workers such as pedicab drivers, trash scavengers, and public transportation drivers who came to enjoy free lunches.

These workers are among those who do not have the luxury of working from home like some office workers.

They need to be on the street to earn money to support their families, despite the risk of contracting coronavirus.

Sugiono, 48, the owner of the stall, said he planned to serve 100 portions of rice meal every day with various side dishes including vegetables, chicken, fish, and eggs.

“I donate free lunches to ease the burden on those who still have to work outside with low income,” Sugiono, who goes by just one name, told Anadolu Agency.

He runs the free meals program with the support of Fast Action Response (ACT), a non-profit that focuses on humanitarian work and disaster response and management.

- More stalls expected to join

Lukman Aziz Kurniawan, spokesman for the group, said the income of daily wage workers had dropped drastically since the outbreak began.

"Low-income people suffer the most from this epidemic," he said.

“So ACT started a free lunch program involving stall food, whose consumers are mostly low-income people.”

Kurniawan said the group provided funds for the stalls to serve 100 portions of lunch meal at 15,000 rupiah ($1) each.

“The funds were obtained from public donations to help battle the outbreak,” he added.

He said that so far, 60 stalls have joined the charity programs.

"Our target is for 1,000 stalls to join by next Friday," said Kurniawan.

He added that in order to stem the virus’ spread, the stall managers should ask customers to practice social distancing.

The coronavirus death toll in Indonesia rose to 87 on Friday as authorities confirmed nine more fatalities across the country.The number of COVID-19 cases also jumped to 1,046, with 153 more cases reported over the past 24 hours.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian language service in Jakarta.

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