An Indian NGO, Akshaya Patra has been successfully implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme for the past 18 years. During these years, it has supported education of millions of children in need by providing them with nutritious school meals regularly and has also initiated several children-specific programmes. This year, the Foundation celebrates its 18th year of service to children.
“No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.”
With this thoughtful and pragmatic vision, The Akshaya Patra Foundation began its journey as an Indian NGO way back in 2000. It took its first step by providing freshly cooked nutritious meals to 1,500 children in five Government schools in Bengaluru. The Foundation recognised the interdependency of food and education much early and hence began to spread its reach to other locations of Karnataka and eventually to other states too. Akshaya Patra’s commitment towards providing unlimited food for education has been lauded nationally and internationally earning the recognition of being the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme.
The Foundation implements the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in partnership with the Government of India, various State Governments, corporate partners, and several philanthropic donors. Akshaya Patra’s 18 years of service is a result of this successful public-private partnership. Currently, Akshaya Patra is addressing classroom hunger by implementing the scheme in 39 locations across 12 states of India. Each school day, the Foundation provides freshly cooked, healthy, and locally palatable meals to more than 1.76 million children studying in 14,314 Government and Government-aided schools.
During the 18 years, Akshaya Patra regularly conducted impact studies in association with third-party research agencies to assess the significance of mid-day meals and its effectiveness in implementing and meeting the objectives of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. The studies revealed palpable impact of the meals on health of children, school enrolment, regular attendance, and academic performance. Witnessing this positive impact, Akshaya Patra stepped up to promote overall development of children by launching child-centric initiatives. Thus, while the Foundation is dedicatedly reaching out to children in need with the school lunch programme, it is also focussing on initiatives such as:
- Giving Every Dream a Chance : This initiative focusses on identifying hidden talents and interests among beneficiary children and providing them with mentorship in association with academies and professionals. It was initiated in 2016 by mentoring three children and it has already impacted more than 300 children within a short span with the aim to reach thousand more in the near future.
- Anganwadi Feeding Programme : A healthy start to life is a crucial prerequisite and 0-6 years is considered the most significant phase in a child’s life. Thus, to support children during the formative years, Akshaya Patra began providing nutritious meals in Anganwadi centres. Currently, 1,61,410 children between the ages of 3-6 years in 4,786 Anganwadi centres in five states and 6,410 pregnant women and lactating mothers across 323 centres in Jaipur are benefitting with this initiative.
- Scholarship Programme : The end of schooling is the beginning of a career-specific education. To support aspiring beneficiaries in their pursuit to higher studies, Akshaya Patra initiated the scholarship programme. So far, hundreds of beneficiaries have been benefitted under Alumni Scholarship and Akshaya Patra Beneficiary Scholarship.
- Model Schools : With the aim to improve schooling experience, Akshaya Patra has initiated the Model School Programme. This initiative will focus on infrastructural reforms, career counselling, and community engagement, and also create replicable models of excellence. A pilot has already been started in Bengaluru with the aim to expand to more locations in the upcoming years.
Akshaya Patra is progressing responsibly with the aim to benefit 5 million children by 2020. On this 18th anniversary, the Foundation welcomes your support to provide unlimited food for education. Rest assured, your support today will get manifested as a healthy and resourceful India in the near future!