Feeding Children. Empowering Dreams. Saving Tax

tax exemption

Eleven-year-old Neeraj lives in a humble home in Badarpur, New Delhi with his parents, two siblings and grandmother. The recent past has been difficult. Neeraj and her family would frequently go without food as a result of her father’s struggles to find stable employment.

Recently, we, at Akshaya Patra, shared a mid-day meal with Neeraj at his school where he spoke about his dreams and aspirations. With the introduction of the Government’s Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Programme, Neeraj’s life has undergone a significant transformation. In addition to satisfying his hunger, Akshaya Patra also helps him dream for a better tomorrow.

Neeraj aspires to achieve great things in the future. He declares, “I want to be an Army Officer so I may help other people.” Because of the kindness of Akshaya Patra donors, Neeraj can dream of his future with hope that he can make it happen.

Mould Young Dreams
The lives of plants and children are comparable to one another. To obtain the greatest benefits, it requires ongoing care. But most of the time, we disregard this straightforward life principle where continual effort is required.

Children lack the energy to concentrate and study if they do not consume enough nutrient-rich food. The impact of hunger isn’t limited to the immediate reality of an aching empty belly. Research shows that children who suffer from nutrition insecurity or diet-related disease attain less education, experience more sick days, advance less in their careers, are forced out of the workforce earlier and die younger, with fewer of their dreams fulfilled.

Akshaya Patra strives to change this trajectory and see food become a part of what bends the arc towards justice for children who depend on us. With every meal we provide, we are trying to eliminate hunger in classrooms. With one nutritious meal every school day, students can focus on academics and pursue their dreams and aspirations.

Building Dreams. Building Tomorrow
Over the past two years, millions of families have struggled to put food on plates for their families. And with schools closed, many children lost their only access to nutrition in these years.

For underprivileged children and their families, healthy nutrition transforms their lives and gifts them the hope to regain their livelihood.

Saina studies in Class 6 in Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Badarpur, New Delhi. “I just want to go home from work every day and know I made a difference! I want to be a teacher because I want to be able to help mould and shape our future. I truly believe that children are our future and it is important that we provide them with the right information and tools to lead their lives in a positive way,” Saina says.

“How we impact the children we teach now, determines the outcome of our future and being able to be a part of history in a minuscule way is a very big deal,” she adds.

Naveen Eshnan in a 11-year-old, studying in Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, New Delhi.
“I made the decision to enlist in the army because I desired a better life for my family and me. The benefits of being an Army Officer are numerous. Being an officer in the world’s best army is the best job I can imagine having. I have the opportunity to serve my neighbourhood and state in addition to my country as an officer in the Indian Army,” Naveen says.

Naveen is the eldest of five siblings. His father is a tailor and the only earning member of the family. This Class 7 student has an ailing grandmother who is looked after by his mother. He adds that the family struggles with money and that Akshaya Patra’s lunch is a glimmer of hope for him that inspires him to go to school. He thanks the NGO for the hot meals provided and also the Happiness Kits that were distributed during the pandemic.

“Because of the demanding nature of a soldier’s life and the fact that they do not live with their families, Defence is the finest choice for anyone who wants to serve their country. They do it without complaining. When there are natural disasters or calamities, they assist us. Since our country’s army men are defending us at the border, we can sleep peacefully today. Serving our country is an opportunity, not just a career option,” adds Naveen.

Jayanthi is a 13-year-old daughter of a farmer father and a homemaker mother. She wants to join the police force when she completes her academics. According to her, every country has its own rules and regulations, and these rules are made to maintain harmony in the country. Sometimes people neglect the rules and cause discomfort and disturbance to others. So, to have an eye on the society, the Government brought in Police Force. They are the Government bodies that maintain peace in society. They help people in different ways and never let people face any difficulty.

She adds: “A Police Officer has many responsibilities; one side they have to maintain peace in the society and on the other side they also have to catch the criminals. If the crime rate increases in a particular area, then they have to answer the higher authorities. Police are not those who remain in a police station and write your report. They also have to solve many cases and some unsolved murder mysteries. The challenges involved in the job inspire Jayanthi to follow her dreams of becoming a Cop.”

Children have big dreams and it is up to us to fulfil those dreams. You contribution of INR 2,500 to The Akshaya Patra Foundation ensures that a child has an access to a healthy breakfast and a nutritious lunch every school day. With each meal you provide, you are gifting the promise of a brighter tomorrow to a child.

Please continue to donate and support millions of children like Saina, Naveen, Jayanthi and Laxmi every day and encourage them to pursue their dreams. Contribute and avail a 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the IT Act.

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How Akshaya Patra Inspires Children To Dream

midday meals program

Dreams keep you moving forward and the gap between dreaming and making those dreams come true might not always be insurmountable, especially if you have support and know how to get there.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one such organisation that works relentlessly to end classroom hunger among underprivileged children and support them to fulfil their dreams. The NGO’s goal is to establish relationships between donors and recipients in order to share joy and grant the unfulfilled desires of children from marginalised communities through food and education.

With feeding lunch to only 1,500 children in 2000, today the NGO upholds a network of world-class kitchens that serve hot mid-day meals (MDM) to 2 million children at more than 22,367 schools in 14 Indian states and 2 union territories.

The Mid-Day Meal Programme (MDM Programme) – currently known as PM Poshan Abhiyaan, a programme to ensure that every child in every government school receives a nourishing meal every school day, is the core service under which Akshaya Patra conducts its operations.

Akshaya Patra’s goal goes beyond simply feeding underprivileged children. It has to do with societal advancement. In addition to encouraging children to attend school, the Foundation works to give them a diversified and nutrient-rich food to improve their nutritional and health status, thus encouraging them to work towards their aspirations.

By 2025, Akshaya Patra strives to serve three million kids every day. The organisation will work to improve its programmes with solutions concentrating on children’s food and nutritional security to put into practise creative ideas as an addition to welfare programmes to improve their health and well-being.

The National Endeavor for Student Transformation (NEST), a set of programmes that focus on children’s holistic development and go beyond meals, has already been introduced. Among them are the school revitalisation programme, which works to create a supportive environment for children through a variety of academic and infrastructure interventions, the Digital Education Programme to provide students with access to digital devices and world-class digital learning platform with professionally curated content and the AVSAR scholarship program, which awards financial aid to deserving students.

Our Beneficiaries

Chandrashekhar comes from a very humble background. He has five siblings and his parents are street-side vendors. He is a mid-day meal beneficiary and enjoys the food served at school. He says he is grateful that the hot meals give him the energy to study well and take part in co-curricular activities.

Currently, millions of children struggle for one square meal a day; for them education is a distant dream. These young lives wait for generosity to help them pursue an education which is their only stepping stone towards their dreams. The school meals do nothing short of a miracle in such a situation. These meals encourage families from difficult socioeconomic circumstances to take their children to school. By supporting Akshaya Patra, you can help over 2 million+ children with nutritious food and education each school day.

Support Akshaya Patra’s Government school students and empower their dreams. Donate for children!

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Share hope and happiness with meals for education

Share hope and happiness with meals for education

Giving someone hope is giving someone life.

It’s true! All of us go through the daily hustle, hanging by the delicate thread of hope—the hope of a better lifestyle, better relationships and a better tomorrow. We stress when these hopes are challenged. 

During COVID, many of us experienced depression while we sat at home all day. Two years felt like an eternity because of our diminishing hopes of returning to our original routines. 

It was hard to get by with a limited supply of daily needs and an extinguished social life. Many of our plans and goals were shattered. Some of us couldn’t meet our families, while others lost their loved ones and are still mourning. 

But among us are millions who have been struggling for years together—working hard to make ends meet, depressed for not being able to look after families and stuck in a state of insufficiency for generations. No matter how much we advance technologically, these underprivileged families have to deal with daily physical and mental stress. 

For them, it is the fear of a vicious cycle that one day may lead to NO HOPE, NO DREAM AND NO LIFE unless we, the better-off individuals, intervene.

Although it is a challenge to reach these people directly, we can be their hope and the reason for happiness by supporting institutions that work for their welfare. 

How can you benefit the underprivileged through NGOs?

  • Help disaster victims: Countries like Africa, India and Ukraine often witness deadly disasters and/or political unrest. Millions lose lives, livelihoods, savings and loved ones. We are fortunate to be living away from the affected areas and can contribute online to support the victims with necessities for survival.
  • Support well-researched programmes by NGOs: Contributing to existing NGO initiatives is the easiest way to help those in need. Visit the websites of globally-recognised NGOs and select programmes that you feel drawn to. Once you choose your cause, support it with your donation with just a click.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering is the best way to spend memorable moments with underprivileged people. If you have the time, visit old-age homes, orphanages, Government schools and NGOs to teach, play, or do fun activities with them. Make them smile and allow these precious moments to heal you for the rest of your life.
  • Fundraise: If you cannot donate a lump sum amount, you can start a fundraising campaign with a third-party crowdfunding website and spread the word among your social network to contribute. Additionally, you can inspire them to help more people.
  • Write articles: If you like writing, you can submit researched guest blogs to not-for-profit websites for the causes they support. Remember to get in touch with them before you start writing and ask if they accept guest entries.

How do NGOs support underprivileged people?

  • They feed and treat malnourished people
  • They support the treatment of patients in hospitals
  • They arrange therapies for children with special needs 
  • They train individuals with disabilities to help them get employed
  • They raise funds to coach unemployed individuals
  • They sponsor items of women’s hygiene
  • They help marginalised communities get opportunities in the fields of art and sports

Donate for children in need. Support Akshaya Patra

We, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, are a 22-year-old NGO in India with a vision that “No child should be deprived of education because of hunger”. With mid-day meals (MDM) supporting the PM Poshan Abhiyaan of the Indian Government, we aim to incentivise children to come to school. Free school meals also help their parents prioritise their future and well-being instead of forcing them to work or get married.

We currently feed 2 million children from our 65 kitchens across 14 states and 2 union territories in India. We are also registered under the Indian Trusts Act of 1882 and implement the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme.

When you donate to our NGO in India, you will also receive a 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act as we are registered u/s 12A of the IT Act as a non-profit organization.

Today, with unconditional support from our donor family, we also run programmes for pregnant women, nursing mothers, homeless mothers and disaster victims.
Your support can help us end hunger in India entirely!

The impact when you donate towards PM Poshan Abhiyaan

Neha knows she needs to be disciplined and focused on academic training to become a doctor. She does just that by studying for at least 5 hours every day without fail.

She says: “My village does not have healthcare facilities. So, when I become a doctor, I will treat poor patients for free. I will open a hospital here so that they don’t have to travel long distances for basic treatments.” When asked about mid-day meals (MDM) served at her school, she mentions that Dal Khichadi and Kheer are her favourite.

Another reason for this dream is that he believes the work of the police force is an engaging job that would keep him on his toes and in touch with his people daily. He is also attracted to the prospect of becoming a police officer because it requires a person who is flexible and willing to deal with varied situations every day.

Talking about the mid-day meals (MDM) served in school, he says he enjoys every dish as they are both nutritious and delicious.

Final Thoughts

When we become the hope for someone else, we recover from our own losses much faster.
As His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama says,
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

So, let’s recuperate by helping children from low socioeconomic backgrounds through PM Poshan Abhiyaan. When you donate to NGOs like Akshaya Patra to provide unlimited food and education, be assured that you are also contributing towards the development of their entire communities.

Donate now!

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Celebrate the Joy of Gifting, this Diwali. Feed the Hungry!

Diwali give the gift of hot meals

Diwali is the biggest festival celebrated by Indians across the globe. It is considered as a high point of India’s festive season. The hallmarks of this season are themes of good versus evil, admiration of Indian culture, and—most importantly—the experience of giving to friends and family.

On the occasion of Diwali, it is a long-standing tradition in India to give and receive gifts from one another. Diwali brings abundance, love and respect, and hence, the giving and receiving of gifts during Diwali symbolises camaraderie and community among individuals.

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when people enjoy wonderful time with friends and family. However, the truth is that for many of Indian children who struggle and face lack of access to healthcare and education, Diwali is just another day. These youngsters reside on the periphery of society. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse for these kids, making them worse than vulnerable in the current predicament.

These children depend on us for support. And what better time to extend a helping hand to them than this festive season. This Diwali, your contribution to PM Poshan Abhiyan (previously known as the Mid-Day Meal Programme) will enable us to reach more disadvantaged and vulnerable children in India and include them in our programmes focusing on resilience development, education, nutrition, protection, and healthcare. It can gift a smile and inspire children to hope for a brighter year and provide some respite to their current circumstances.

So this Diwali, let kindness rule the hearts. Feed the hungry and come forward to make a donation to Akshaya Patra – one of the leading NGOs in India that supports food and education of children, runs various programmes, the core of which is the Mid-Day Meal Programme (MDM) or the PM Poshan Abhiyaan.

PM Poshan Abhiyaan (previously known as Mid-Day Meal Programme)

The Akshaya Patra Foundation serves hot and nutritious lunch to 2 million Government school children every school day through the PM Poshan Abhiyaan (previously known as Mid-Day Meal Programme), across 14 States and 2 Union Territories in India. These meals are prepared and distributed from 65 locations across the country.

For over 21 years, the Foundation has battled to alleviate hunger in the classroom, encouraging marginalised children to get an education and aspire for a brighter future. When you donate to feed the children, the meals act as an incentive for these children to attend school every day, thus increasing attendance and enrolment. The meals also encourage them to continue their education.

The Joy of Hot Meals

She missed the joy of being carefree around friends and teachers at school and also the nutritious midday meal. Now that schools have reopened, Aishwarya can’t stop smiling as she’s back with her friends, teachers and has lots of fun. She says: “I used to miss my friends during the lunch hour but now we can enjoy our midday meal together. I love the days when they serve sambar rice for lunch.”

When Determination and Nutrition Come Together

Given his family’s financial position, Nasir thanks The Akshaya Patra Foundation for providing mid-day meals to him from Class 5 to Class 10. Nasir was inspired by his school staff and Akshaya Patra to pursue his aspirations after completing his 10th Boards. He received a scholarship from the Foundation’s AVSAR Scholarship Program to pursue his dream of becoming a CA. He recently passed his examinations and is now a certified CA. He expresses gratitude to his parents, teachers, Akshaya Patra and friends for believing in him. He wishes to work in the manufacturing or fast-moving consumer goods industries, with the goal of eventually starting his own firm.

Celebrate Diwali differently this year by going above and beyond for the less fortunate. Make a contribution to enable them to smile and make their lives happier. The satisfaction of enhancing young people’s lives is always unmatched!

Gift a Smile this Diwali. Share the joy of this festive occasion!

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Impact of Teachers on Students’ Lives

Teacher’s day

Teachers are considered to be the Gurus; they impart knowledge to children at a very young stage of life. Starting from teaching children about how to hold a pencil, write, behave with other children, be disciplined and everything else under the sun, they are the ones who teach about life after families. For most children, teachers become as close as a family member.

Teacher’s day is celebrated worldwide on 10th October. However, in India, it is celebrated on the birthday of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan on 5th September.

Teachers are special people with lots of patience and guidance; they deserve to be celebrated. Young minds are the future of our country and teachers/professors are the ones who mould them into responsible citizens. They don’t have only one responsibility of educating children; they also play an important role in the long-term behaviours and personality development of children.

Every child is different and hence should be treated accordingly.

Each teacher is unique and this uniqueness is what brings children closer to them, beyond academics. You might also have had a favourite or a set of favourite teachers during your childhood. These are a few of Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal beneficiaries who have huge respect and love for their teachers for who they truly are.

According to some children, they say that Teachers and mothers were created because God was not able to be with them everywhere.

This is the respect that children have for their teachers. It’s not just a one-way signal that children like their teachers, teachers are equally involved in giving the best to their students in every way possible.

There are stories of teachers who have gone beyond their call of duty and have paid the tuition fees of their students so that they can get educated, despite their financial situation. These are being who are happily fulfilling their responsibilities with utmost dedication and passion.

How can you celebrate with Akshaya Patra?
This teacher’s day, celebrate with Akshaya Patra – an NGO in India by honouring your teachers and supporting children who love and respect their teachers for who they are and what they teach.
Donate to feed the children who respect their teachers.
Make an online donation by feeding children with Akshaya Patra.

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Importance of Anganwadi Programme in India

anganwadi feeding

A new mother or a nursing mother requires support in her daily life if she has to go out, do some activity and contribute to the household’s finances. Anganwadi centres play a crucial role in reducing stress and fatigue of the mother by contributing to their most important responsibilities of nurturing small children.

Anganwadi Programme – a part of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)
• Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (which includes The Anganwadi programme) was launched on 2 October 1975 and is a national programme that addresses the needs of children below the age of six years.
• Anganwadi centres provide an integrated package of services including supplementary nutrition, basic healthcare and pre-school education.
• Since the health and nutritional needs of a child alone cannot be addressed in isolation from the mother, the programme also extends to pregnant and lactating mothers.

Importance of Anganwadi programme in India
Nutritional levels during the early stages of life directly impact the overall health and growth of children to support the important milestones of life. This programme also educates mothers about the importance of nutrition and health, enabling them to provide better care for their children.

• Accessibility and affordability to healthcare
To the rural population of India, getting the right healthcare facilities is a challenge. Most people are not even aware of the programme they can benefit from.

• Establishes social connections with community
These centres give the women a sense of involvement in the community. It gives them the opportunity to participate in things that they would not have been able to otherwise. In short, it gives them social time – to catch up with neighbours, attend functions or weddings and also helps them socialise with other women in the Anganwadi centres.

Eradicates malnourishment
Every child needs nutrition for healthy development. These essentials help them grow physically and mentally. When a child is well nourished right at a very young age, s/he is more likely to develop into a healthy adult.

• Gives access to Government programmes
Anganwadi workers become the main source of access to the Government’s scheme for rural people. With their help, mothers or parents become aware of the key health services and benefits.

In short, mothers feel less stressed that their child is well-taken care of. Many NGOs in India support the Government of India to run these Anganwadi centres. Most mothers do not have enough time to spare for their children. Plus, their husbands also work and do not have enough time for them. These centres allow them to have some free time for themselves.

Some of these centres are run with the generosity of donors who donate to feed the children coming from difficult backgrounds.

Akshaya Patra’s Anganwadi Feeding Programme
Having been a provider of mid-day meals to children, Akshaya Patra is well-aware of the significance of adequate nutrition in the growth and development of children. Hence, by initiating the Anganwadi Programme, the NGO in India aimed to feed the children and women in Anganwadi centres with nutritious meals daily.

Donate to NGOs that nourish children right from the early ages of childhood.

To ensure the beneficiaries receive the required quantity of nutrients every day, Akshaya Patra follows a cyclic and locally palatable Anganwadi food menu. This results in the inclusion of a variety of nutritious food items, taste while preventing monotony.

These meals that you donate to NGOs like Akshaya Patra:
• Provides required nutrition
• Supports age-appropriate growth
• Boosts immunity in the log-run
• Addresses health-related concerns
• Reduces mortality and morbidity rates in children.

Anganwadi Feeding Programme is a crucial intervention to ensure that every child receives a healthy start. Support women and little children for 300 days in a year, in the stages that require all nutritional needs for a better life with your contribution of Rs.1900. Donate to Akshaya Patra today to feed a mother and her child.

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Support Children’s Mid Day Meals for Education

midday meals

You must have often heard your mother say, “Eat something! You won’t be able to focus unless your stomach is full.” And I am sure we all have brushed it away several times.

One can go without food for a day or two, but the consequences can be fatal if one starves for a long time. Long-term hunger and undernourishment impair concentration and thus, the learning ability is compromised.

Today, millions of children from challenging backgrounds in India starve for days, months and sometimes even YEARS! Not only can they not focus on learning, but they also face many deficiencies, leave alone losing hopes of aspiring and achieving. Because instinctually, they want to earn just enough so that they can eat at least one meal a day!
In such a situation, the capability and desire to dream is lost among them!

The question is if they lack the will to achieve great things, how will the marginalised sections in India overcome their unfavorable circumstances?
When the zeal to achieve is lost, so is the possibility for India to produce future leaders and gold medalists.

Therefore, we must, as responsible citizens of the nation, donate to feed the children from low socio-economic communities. We must aim to climb the ladder of development along with those who are not as fortunate as others.

Because their dreams too have the power to transform the future of India!

Stories from Akshaya Patra

Akshaya Patra had its humble beginnings in 2000 by feeding 1,500 children. It took thousands of approvals and years of research to build an NGO in India that has been winning accolades for the quality of mid-day meals (MDM) it provides in schools.

Akshaya Patra supports the Government of India to effectively implement its Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDM) launched in 2001. Today, its 1.8 million beneficiaries dream with hope, courage and belief in their potential to achieve their goals. Here is a glimpse into what they have to say.

Your vital contribution towards children

One can make an easy contribution to NGOs in India through several platforms. For instance, you can make an online donation towards the Mid Day Meal Scheme on The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s website with a few clicks. You can also raise a fundraiser on the website with minimum requirements of entering a title, image, the date the campaign will end and the amount you wish to raise.

With Akshaya Patra, you can also donate for steel meal plates and tumblers that help children to eat from. This will ensure hygienic and safe meals for school children. Alternatively, you can also donate a vehicle or spread the word about this NGO’s work on your social media handles.

Any generous contribution from you will help Akshaya Patra reach more locations, inaugurate more kitchens, develop processes and ultimately feed more children. Now, the power to decide what India’s future will look like, lies in your hands.

Donate to feed 1.8 million children in 19,037 schools across 61 locations today!

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#BlogToFeedAChildDiscussion Room

Combating child labour & its impact on children

child labour

Millions of children are exploited for cheap labour and some of them don’t even know that they are being exploited. Many of these children are mostly forced by their families to be a helping hand to the family’s financial situation. Poverty is one major factor that ensnared into child labour.

There is no place for child labour in society. It robs children of their future and keeps families in poverty.”
Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

Unpaid or paid work, both deprive children of a well-deserved education. Can you imagine a child who has never seen the bright side of life but has always either worked with poisonous substances in a factory or has taken the role of a caretaker to babysit their siblings?

Over 9 million children could be pushed into child labour by 2022: International Labour Organisation (ILO)
But, is this the case only with India?
No, it is prevalent all over the world.

According to the latest report by ILO and UNICEF, the number of children has risen to a shocking number of 160 million, worldwide.

Many NGOs in India and worldwide work towards eliminating child labour at the grass-root level. What are the root causes?
There are many interlinking factors, if we do not address the root cause, then we will never be able to address the issue.

Without a second thought, poverty is the most powerful influence in pushing children into child labour. When basic requirements like food, shelter, health or education become luxurious commodities, children are forced to supplement their family’s income.

• Lack of quality education
It is a prevalent fact that mostly, children coming from challenging backgrounds do not get access to quality education in private institutions due to lack of funds, etc. Though you can donate to NGOs that support children’s education, there is always a gap that is difficult to bridge.

And this gap can be reduced by a simple intervention called the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDM Scheme). Education and food are the two solutions that could tackle child labour. Various states implemented this programme after its success in Tamil Nadu. After the mandate of the Supreme Court of India in 2001, all the states started implementing school meals for primary and upper primary school children.

The Mid Day Meal Scheme could work to bring children to school and help them become regular so that the social evil of child labour has no space to grow.

\To support the Government of India to feed and educate children, The Akshaya Patra Foundation – an NGO in India provides unlimited food for education to 1.8 million children in need every day.

Mid day meals relieve them of the burden of working for their daily meals. Donate to feed the children who need you the most to overcome every little hurdle in their life. Join us in our feeding initiatives.

One well-fed and educated child is one less child on the list of child labour.

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The Magic of Mid-Day Meal Programme

midday meals (mdm)

At The Akshaya Patra Foundation, we envision an India where ‘No child shall be deprived of education because of hunger’. With a belief that feeding the hungry is a social responsibility, we ensure that no matter what, children get access to hot and nutritious food every day. We work on a Private Public Partnership (PPP) model with the Government of India and our corporate donors to have a cascading effect on the nation’s progress towards Zero Hunger.

Akshaya Patra’s kitchens are dubbed as the world’s largest kitchens preparing midday meals for more than 1.8 million children across the country. With its 59 centralised and 2 decentralised kitchens, the Foundation’s service towards the mid-day meal programme is well-known.

These kitchens use gravity’s potential energy for the cooking process, a method known as the ‘gravity-flow mechanism’. They are the country’s most advanced centralised kitchens, with over lakhs of meals cooked in less than 5 hours every day for children in government and government-aided schools. Akshaya Patra kitchens are noted for their efficiency and effectiveness, thanks to the use of innovative technology. Every morning, operations begin at 4 am, and hot meals are ready to be served by 8am. The centralised cooking facilities are planned and developed to ensure the highest level of quality while reducing cost, time, and labour.

Every school day, a specialised fleet of cutting-edge food delivery vans navigate kilometres to ensure that students get their much-needed lunch on time. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has customised its delivery vehicles with insulated bodies and honeycomb constructed racks to carry containers. This ensures that hot and fresh food reaches schools, with no spillage during transportation, every day. The specially built vehicle is dust-free, insulated to preserve the ideal temperature of 65℃ approximately, and aids in the preservation of the meals’ freshness.

All the kitchen employees of Akshaya Patra put in all of their hard work to ensure that children receive hot and nutritious food during their lunchtime. The kitchens start whirring early in the morning as there is a humungous task of feeding 1.8 million children every day.

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Early Start to Eat Smart

world hunger day

Transitions are hard, and DEFINITELY when one is transitioning into the role of a parent. Nothing can prepare you for the trials, tribulations and joys of it. And yet, every step of the way there will be self-doubt.

One of the places where parents constantly question themselves is food – “Is my child eating enough?” “Should I try this food combination? “Is the food that they are served in school nutritious enough? and the list goes on and on.

And the worries are justifiable – after all, research shows that the right nutrition at the infant stage is fundamental to a child’s continued health right into adulthood. Moreover, good nutrition is not just about strong bodies, but also strong minds – UNICEF cites that during the first two years of a child’s life, up to 75% of each meal goes to building a baby’s brain.

As new parents, these facts and figures can seem daunting but if parents equip themselves with the right information, we can ensure we are bringing up a generation that is healthy, and joyful!

Through Meghana’s experience as being part of setting up the public health practice for McKinsey India to our collective journey of building Wholsum Foods, we’ve had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of healthcare practitioners, food scientists, and parents (particularly mothers), about how one can successfully implement the mantra of ‘Early Start to Eat Smart’ in the first 1000 days of a child’s life. Here’s what we’ve learnt along the way:

Breastfeeding has immense benefits: Amongst the most important benefits of breast milk is that it has antibodies that help protect babies from many infections, including diarrhea and ear and lung infections. Studies also show that breastfed babies are also less likely to develop medical problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, and allergies. It also meets a variety of emotional needs for both mothers and babies, since skin-to-skin contact is shown to enhance emotional connections.

Weaning foods are critical: These foods should be high in calories, rich with protein, vitamins, and minerals and yet low on fiber. Moreover, the texture should be such that it can be swallowed easily. The important thing to remember with weaning foods is that the prepared food should have low bulk as a baby’s stomach capacity is rather small. Pureed fruits and vegetables, as well as grains like millets and pulses are wholesome options for children during this time.

Don’t wait too long to start solid foods: As children grow, they need the extra energy and nutrients to aid the process so it’s recommended that parents don’t wait too long to start their children on solid foods.

Educate yourself AND your child!: From 6-months till about 2 years of age, it is easy for a parent to ensure that a child eats everything healthy. However, it’s when they become slightly older and begin going to school, that the real test begins. At that age, children are unaware of the ingredients in the food they eat or are even incapable of identifying specific ingredients and foods – they are simply attracted to foods that look nice and taste even nicer. It’s that stage when addressing the problem, explaining food labels and getting children involved in meal planning, preparation, and cooking is of utmost importance.

This also means that this is the stage when the involvement of governments and schools becomes all the more essential. Initiatives like the Akshaya Patra Research Lab and the studies they conduct play a vital role in advocacy programs for improving the nutritional status of children at this stage.

This World Nutrition Day, it’s important to remember that nutrition and healthy living is not something limited to a day but rather, a commitment we need to make daily for a healthy life. The early years are an opportunity to build strong foundations and the entire ecosystem – whether it is parents, schools, governments, healthcare practitioners, and food companies like ours – needs to come together to ensure we equip the next generation with healthy eating habits for a brighter future.

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