basis last year. We envisaged it as a social service than as a business to make profit. Poor people who could not afford huge price for food were our target customers and we wanted to provide them quality food at cheap rate," Alexander Jacob said.
The demand for jail chapati and chicken has been increasing day by day and long queues can be seen in front of the sales outlet to buy a packet. Affordable price and home-made taste are the major attractions of the dishes, he said.
The cost for buying a few chapati-making machines was the only investment for this venture. Chicken was mainly sourced from the prison poultry farms while freshly plucked vegetables from jail gardens are used for making vegetable curries. More than 100 prisoners are working in different shifts to meet the rising demand for the prison food.
Jacob said the "service aspect" of the project was more important than its commercial results.
"We only take 10 per cent profit from the consumers. We mainly target the by-standers of patients in hospitals, poor housing settlements, old-age homes and orphanages in our projects. They can avail quality food at cheaper rates from our mobile outlets. That is what I consider as the focus of this initiative," he said.
As profit is not the motive of the project, the prisons are not taking bulk orders such as catering to marriages or big parties. The prisons have made it a norm that more than 50 packets of food would not be sold to a single individual.
The prisoners also benefit from the initiative with cooks and helpers earning Rs 117 as their daily wages so that they can send an average of Rs 3500 to their families a month, Jacob said.
Cakes costing below Rs 100 and low-price rubber sandals are the next in line and the food business initiative would be extended to two more prisons soon, the ADGP added.