Amma Unavagam

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Amma Unavagam
Restaurant chain
Industry Restaurant services
Genre South Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
Founded 2013
Founder Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai Corporation
Headquarters Chennai, India
Area served
Tamil Nadu
Products Food
Services Subsidised low cost food
Revenue Non-profit organisation
Owner Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Website Edit this on Wikidata
An Amma Unavagam outlet in Adyar, Chennai

Amma Unavagam (Tamil: அம்மா உணவகம்) is a food subsidisation programme run by the Government of Tamil Nadu in India.[1]

Under the scheme, municipal corporations of the state run canteens serving subsidised food at low prices.[2]

About the name[edit]

The literal meaning of the name of the scheme Amma Unavagam is Mother's canteen. Amma translates to mother in Tamil, but is also a reference to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who introduced this restaurant chain as part of government schemes aimed at aiding economically disadvantaged sections of society.[3]

About the scheme[edit]

Menu displayed in front of a canteen in Adyar, Chennai.

The scheme requires municipal corporations in the state to establish canteens at multiple places in cities and sell subsidised food at very low prices.[4] The first canteens were opened in several localities of Chennai, and later in other corporations of the state. Three of the ten canteens in Coimbatore are partially solar-powered.[5]

Menu and prices[edit]

The food chains primarily serve South Indian food including idli, saambar rice, curd rice, pongal, lemon rice, curry leaf rice and also chappathi. The dishes are offered at low prices: 1 for an idli, 5 for a plate of sambar rice, 5 for a plate of "Karuvapellai Satham" (Curry leaves rice) and 3 for a plate of curd rice.[6][7]


It has been reported that massive losses are incurred by corporations by offering food at very low rates. As an example, the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation reported a loss of approximately 2.64 for an idli, 9.73 for a unit of sambar rice and 4.44 for a unit of curd rice, incurring a total loss of about 2.70 crore (US$380,000) a year.[8] There was opposition in Tirunelveli to the appropriation of governments funds to this scheme.[9] Concerns were also raised about the effects subsidised canteens can have on pushcart eateries, importantly that small business ventures may not be able to withstand competition from government subsidised low cost canteens on a long-term basis.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jayalalithaa : A political career with sharp rises and steep falls". The Hindu. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  2. ^ "New budget restaurants to be renamed Amma Unavagam". The Hindu. 24 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Mother of welfare schemes". The Hindu. 6 December 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Affordable food coming your way". The Hindu. 19 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Solar power for Amma Unavagams". The Hindu. 2 June 2013.
  6. ^ Pandey, Geeta (4 July 2016). "Amma canteen: Where an Indian meal costs only seven cents". BBC News. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  7. ^ Rajagopalan, Ashwin (2 May 2016). "Inside Jayalalithaa's Amma Canteen: Sambhar Rice for Rs5, Idlis for Re1 each". The Indian Express. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Amma Unavagam to open by end of May in city". The Hindu. 27 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Release of funds to 'Amma Unavagam' opposed". The Hindu. 31 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Corporation canteens worry pushcart eateries". The Hindu. 14 April 2013.