Mangaluru’s food philanthropist who was known for offering heavily subsidised mid-day meals to school-going children, breathed his last on Tuesday.
61-year old Madhav Bhat was admitted to the hospital on Monday for a throat-related ailment. The owner of Hotel Srinivas Deluxe, he was known for offering mid-day meals at Rs 5 to school-going children.
Much before the Amma canteens, Indira canteens or government-led mid-day meal schemes, Madhav offered vegetarian meals to school-going children at a massive discount. The move was widely appreciated, and saved a lot of time and money for the poor children who otherwise had to commute to their respective homes during lunch hours. "The students could utilise this time for education or extracurricular activities on campus instead," Madhav earlier said in an earlier interview to the media.
Bhatkal town is filled with educational institutions. At the heart of this town, for nearly 25 years, thousands of children have dined at the restaurant and benefited from Madhav’s initiative. A typical subsidised menu offered by this hotel comprises of rice, sambar, vegetable and pickles that could be availed by students during the weekdays. A few years ago, however, owing to an increase in the cost of raw materials, the restaurant had hiked the original cost of the subsidised thali from Rs 5 to Rs 10.
In recent years, despite the government introducing free mid-day meals, students continue to visit the outlet. According to the staff, several former students have revisited the hotel and remained in touch with Madhav.
"Students from rural and poor economic background are our clients. We won’t fall into poverty by providing them subsidised food. As much as we can, we will try to do our best for them," Madhav said in an earlier interview.
The youngest of the seven children, Madhav’s father Vedamurthy Srinivas Bhat was the head priest of the Mahaganapathy Mahamaya Temple at Shirali in Uttar Kannada. Bhat had completed his preliminary and higher education at the Canara College in Mangaluru.
Following his death, Madhav’s body was taken from Mangalore to Bhatkal for his funeral. He is survived by his wife Rajani and his son Aditya.
Bhat's philanthropy gained him a lot of admiration. Several people took to social media to express their condolences.
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