It may be objected that if we undertake to sell food at lower than the ordinary market rates, we shall interfere with the legitimate operations of trade. But to this we would answer that the same objection would be still more true in regard to charitable doles, which are given for nothing. And further, we shall fix our prices with a view to covering the actual cost of the food, so that there will not be any probability of our interfering with ordinary market rates. Besides, should there be any very serious difficulty of the kind, we could always make a rule limiting the food sold at these depots to those who came under the operation of the other branches of our social reform.
At the outset it would probably be wisest to avoid all caste complications by confining ourselves entirely to uncooked food, leaving the people to do their own cooking, but it is very probable that before long we should be forced to undertake the preparation of cooked food. We should of course pay due regard in this respect to the customs of the various castes, religions and nationalities concerned. To a Hindoo for instance it would be extremely disagreeable to eat out Of the same dish as others, while Mahommedans, as one said to me the other day, only enjoy the meal the more, when others are sitting round the platter. These, however, are subordinate details which would largely settle themselves as we went along. Food in some shape or form, the destitute must have, good in quality and sufficient in quantity, and if they prefer it uncooked this will save us trouble, whereas if cooking becomes necessary we shall have another industry for the employment of many hands. Meanwhile the fact that nearly every native of the poorer castes, be it man, woman, or even child, knows how to cook their own food, is likely to be of no little help in settling the question of the food supply.
WORK FOR ALL, OR THE LABOUR YARD.
But it may next be asked, what we shall do in the case of those who have no money with which to buy their food, even at the reduced rates we would propose? To this we would reply that such will be expected to perform a reasonable amount of work, in return for which they will be given tickets entitling them to obtain food from the depots just referred to.
In order to do this we shall establish labour yards, where we shall provide work of a suitable character for the destitute. This will involve very little expense, as sheds of a cheap description will answer our purpose, there being no necessity for providing against the inclement weather which adds so greatly to the expense and difficulty of carrying on such operations in England.
Whatever may be the produce of this cheap labour, we shall be careful to sell it rather above than below the ordinary market rates, so as to avoid competing with other labour. Moreover, we shall direct our attention from the first to manufacturing chiefly those articles which are likely to be of service to us in other branches of our scheme, so that the labour of the destitute will go chiefly towards supplying their own wants and those of the persons who are engaged in prosecuting the work.