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Let the happy faces of the children light up your day

Happy Diwali

The festival of lights brings joy to all our lives. It is a joyous celebration of victory of good over evil. It is the time for togetherness and bonding as we meet our near and dear ones.The festival of lights brings joy to all our lives. It is a joyous celebration of victory of good over evil. It is the time for togetherness and bonding as we meet our near and dear ones.

But how about adding more value to the festive celebrations this year? You can do that in many ways. Involving social cause in this year’s celebration is one of the many ways you can make it memorable.
Different ways to do it:

1. Sponsor a child: Diwali celebration need not be just a day’s affair. You can make the entire year special for yourself by sponsoring a child’s meal for one entire year. It takes just Rs 950. With this, one child in a Government or Government-aided school will receive a wholesome school lunch for one entire year. This will help them stay focused in school and aspire to reach heights.

2. Teach children the importance of sharing: We all have heard the saying ‘sharing is caring’. But these values must be inculcated in children during their childhood. This Diwali can be a great way of teaching your children the importance of sharing. Make online donation to an NGO and set examples for them. You can make online donation to Akshaya Patra too. You will also get the benefit of tax exemption under Section 80G of Income Tax Act.

3. Start an online fundraising campaign: This Diwali, you can start a fundraising campaign on our website. All you have to do is think of an innovative idea which will make your friends and family support you in the cause of feeding the children. Once the campaign goes live, share it on your social networking platforms with a powerful message. The money raised through this will be used to feed the children in Government and Government-aided schools across India.

About 39% of the total population in India constitute of children. They are the driving force behind the success of our nation. Let us, empower them to ensure that our nation is in safe hands. Be a part of our movement. Support us. Donate today.

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Fighting Financial Instability, Hemalatha Dreams of Empowering Others Like Her

Hemalatha and her friends

Hemalatha watches her mother toil seven days a week to meet ends and that’s what inspires her to uplift vulnerable children on streets. She tells us that children do not need our sympathy, but empathy, which would transform their lives. She says, “I would like to tutor children living on the streets. To uplift them, education is an important factor.” The aspiring social worker makes us feel proud, as we learn more about her ambition. We met Hemalatha at Government Lower Primary School, Hosur Meenakunte. She is a 10-year-old girl studying in Std V. She hails from Andhra Pradesh; her parents moved to Karnataka in search of better job opportunities.

As she grows up, she aspires to educate children on the street. She knows that her situation is not much different from theirs but feels glad to be exposed to education. “Some of these children do not have the privileged of attending school. I want to empower them so that they are not left vulnerable.” At a young age, she understands how education has been benefitting her and the need for it to lead a respectable life.

The Lingering Pain

Hemalatha in pain

While talking to her, we noticed the girl to be a little hesitant to talk about her family. But later she told us that her family, which once consisted of four members, is now has only three. Her father – Mr Muniraj – succumbed to an accident when she was six years old and studying in Std I. Tears welled up in her eyes when she remembered her father; she was inconsolable then. The little girl hasn’t recovered from the trauma. She now lives with her mother and brother.

As her father was the only earning member of the family, her mother Savita had to take up all the responsibilities after his death. She works as a full-time house help. The meagre income she earns is not sufficient to support a family of three and she works on Sunday too, with a hope to earn some extra money. Her brother is also a student of Std VII in a Government school and benefits from the school lunch served by Akshaya Patra.

But all this doesn’t deter this ambitious child from having big aspirations for the betterment of society. There is yet another hurdle she has to overcome before she reaches her goal – the hurdle of being married once she turns 14. “My mother is planning to make me discontinue my studies after I turn 14 and get me married. She is concerned about my safety. If my father was alive, I would not have faced such a situation,” she tells us, as tears roll down her eyes.

Our heart melted and all we could see in her eyes was the hunger to achieve her ambition. She dreams of a bright future, but is worried that marriage would not allow her to achieve it.

A hard-working student

Hemalatha makes it a point to revise the lessons taught in school every evening. Though she doesn’t have anyone to guide her, she ensures that she approaches her teachers and clarifies doubts the next day. Apart from helping society, she also wants to help her mother, who works hard all day long. “My favourite subject is Science. I like to study all subjects, but I have a keen interest in learning Science. I ensure that I have understood the lessons well,” she says. Her favourite teacher is Regina Miss as she teaches Maths and English in a unique way, to ensure her students understand the concepts.

The nutritious morsel

As Hemalatha’s mother goes to work early in the morning, the siblings rely on a school lunch served by Akshaya Patra. “My mother is happy that we get a glass of milk in the morning and nutritious mid-day meals in the afternoon.”

For children like them, mid-day meals are the only wholesome meals they get to eat in the day. In fact, the meals also encourage them to attend school regularly and continue their studies. The nutritious meals give them the power to learn and dream high.

This makes it necessary for NGOs like Akshaya Patra to serve food regularly to these children to ensure that they take the country towards positive development.

Help the children like Hemalatha to achieve their dreams by supporting Akshaya Patra to feed the children.

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Teacher’s Day: Innovative learning, nutritious food helps children grasp lessons better

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It is believed that teachers play an important role in moulding students into responsible citizens. Their contribution to students’ development in their formative years can’t be understated. While some make an extra effort to make a child understand lessons, others enrich us with their life experiences.

As the teachers deepen a student’s knowledge with lessons in classrooms, Akshaya Patra has been empowering them with its school lunch programme. We aim at ensuring that no child chooses work over studies due to hunger. The programme was started in 2000, and since then, has had an impact on the lives of many students. As we speak to the teachers of our beneficiaries, this is what we got to hear:

Kusuma: The teacher who prioritised over her dream of studying medicine

At Government Upper Primary School, GoriPalya, Bengaluru, we conduct classes in the morning and noon, to accommodate students whose parents expect them to work in the second half of the day. I aim at promoting not just academics, but also other activities that help in overall child development.

I wanted to study medicine, but at 21, I began teaching Hindi at an educational institution. I realised I was passionate towards teaching. I passed the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KES) examination in 1997 and since then I have been associated with government schools.

I want children to be educated, secure their life with employment, and more importantly, become good citizens of the country.

G Ranganath: The teacher who found lessons beyond books

Teaching methodologies should evolve with time.The children in Government High School, Policy Colony, Karnataka, grasp better when the lessons are is conveyed through the audio-visual medium. It also makes the learning experience enjoyable. My initiative of using the audio-visual medium in school is loved by children. They make sure to never miss it.”

The government, by partnering with organisations like Akshaya Patra, has ensured that children receive a tasty and nutritious meal. The programme has been successful in reducing child labour and improving school enrolment and attendance.

Babita: The teacher who thinks food helps children concentrate in class

The parents of children studying in Government High School in Hesarghatta, Karnataka, work at Indian Institute of Horticultural Research [IIHR] as labourers or helpers. They leave home early in the morning and return by sundown. These children used to carry stale or spoilt food. Akshaya Patra started serving food in our school since 2007. The food is nutritious and fills their stomach. Their concentration levels have increased.

Ismail Malik: The teacher who experienced increase in attendance due to school lunch programme

“Many children who attend school in Antti Kumar Prathamik Shala, a primary school in Padra Taluk, Vadodara, Gujarat, are from lower income backgrounds. They need help from organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Their parents earn somewhere around Rs 2,000 to 3,000 by performing some labour-intensive jobs like carpentry, rag picking, masonry and the like. Even the parents prefer sending children to school, as it assures them of a healthy nutritious meal.

The mid-day meal has brought a tremendous decline in the student dropout rate. In the primary school, the increase in attendance is nearly as high as 60% to 70%. The numerous awards that now decorate the school office are a testimony to this.”

Please share your experiences with your teachers in the comments section below. We also look forward to learn about teachers around the world who have adopted various innovate teaching techniques to make the classes engaging.

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Our Enthusiastic Interns Tell Us Why We Are A Great Place to Work – Part 2

Akshaya Patra NGO Interns

The Akshaya Patra Foundation was recently certified as a Great Place to Work by Great Place to Work® Institute. Apart from employees, our interns play a major role in making the place what it is. They share their experience with us.

Harika Tota

Q. Why did you choose this Organization?
A. Firstly, I chose it because The Akshaya Patra Foundation is known for its Supply Chain Management” and I was looking to specialise in the same. Secondly, because of the organisation’s dedicated effort to eradicate hunger among children.

Q. How’s your typical day like?
A. It usually starts with a meeting with my mentor Mr Vinay Kumar C where we discuss my assignments for the day. He tracks my work every day. I got to improve my skills and knowledge at TAPF. My day doesn’t end without having lunch at TAPF which is delicious and hygienic.

Q. What are the challenges you faced so far? How did you overcome them?
A. One of the major challenges was to draft a research paper related to my work. This was my first time. My mentor helped me with it.

Q. Any memorable moment you had at TAPF? What did you like most about interning here?
A. I enjoyed attending Toastmasters club. While I did not get a table topic, I feel if I was given an opportunity, I would have understood where I stand.

Q. Why do you think Akshaya Patra is a ‘Great Place to Work’?
A. Akshaya Patra sets a good example of employer-employee relationship by providing opportunity to excel at work. The office has a lively environment. We get homely food. All this makes it a ‘Great Place to Work’.


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Q. Why did you choose this Organization?
A. I am pursuing MBA and I was interested in learning about Operations Management. TAPF is a place where activities like processing of raw materials, quality assurance and maintenance, supply chain process has a key role in providing nutritious school meal for over 1.6 million children across 12 states. This made me curious to learn more about the organisation.

Q. How’s your typical day like?
A. It starts with briefing from my guide/mentor Mr Vinay Kumar C on regular work. With the help of tracker, he monitors our activities and our research work on daily basis.

Q. What are the challenges you faced so far? How did you overcome them?
A. I found Toastmasters challenging. But then I realised that it will help me in my career. I am sure I will perform well next time.

Q. Any memorable moment you had at TAPF? What did you like most about interning here?
A. While I found Toastmasters difficult, I had fun attending it. It justifies the statement ‘Fun While You Learn’. I also like the work environment and the food here.

Q. Why do you think Akshaya Patra is a ‘Great Place to Work’?
A. Akshaya Patra is a ‘Great place to work’ because of its work environment, activities like Toastmasters club and the healthy relationship between employer and employee.

To apply for internship with The Akshaya Patra Foundation, you can contact us on hr.helpdesk@akshayapatra.org looping kavya.krishna@akshayapatra.org.

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Contribute to send children back to school!

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It is the second quarter of the year and the hiring season is at its peak. Landing a high-paying job is on everyone’s agenda. Taking up lucrative opportunities to better our status quo, rule our minds as we start to prepare for a new chapter in our lives. The feeling is simply rewarding, isn’t it? Similarly, its back-to-school-time also! Quintessential summer days of having a blast and lazing around are finally over, as children gear up for their new academic year. After all, isn’t education the doorway to success and a million wonderful opportunities?

Education brings growth

Education is important for the mental and material development of an individual. Not only does it bring knowledge, it also opens up a whole new avenue of opportunities for the future. It inspires dreams, ambitions and new hopes for the future. It broadens one’s perspectives and makes them more receptive to diversity of thought and opinion. It also boosts one’s career prospects and brings financial gain.

Education received in school is important

The education that one receives in childhood is the foundation on which future achievements and laurels rest. And if the foundation itself is weak, how can a firm structure for a successful future be built? A good, uninterrupted schooling and education while young makes a world of difference, as it is the first step and a prerequisite for a good academic record.

Similarly, its back-to-school-time also! Quintessential summer days of having a blast and lazing around is finally over as children gear up for their new academic year. But often, poverty and paucity of resources prevent families from sending their children for another year at school. This is reality as reports establish the inextricable connection of poverty and increasing dropout rates. Adverse conditions of hunger and food insecurity thwart children’s excitement of returning for another year at school. School becomes a distant dream.

As the second quarter of the year rolls in and brings with it the new academic year, help us in facilitating children start it fruitfully! Your donation will help us in providing wholesome meals that will motivate children and their parents to send them to school. So, join in the cause of ‘food for education’ and help bring children back to school!

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Mothers are the pillars of strength

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Nothing in the world compares to the love of a mother. It is the strongest, most selfless of emotions. The bond between mother and child is forged before the child is born and has the power to withstand all storms. Mother’s Day, commemorated on May 14 this year (the second Sunday of May) celebrates this bond.

Akshaya Patra has always had the great pleasure of supporting mothers through its school lunch programme. These mothers include those of our beneficiaries, who have a lesser load to shoulder, since their children get a healthy meal in school every day.

Among the 2,352 ladies who work for our Foundation, many are mothers. Some of their children also get to have school meals which their mothers have helped in preparing at our kitchens. And what could be a greater joy for a mother than ensuring that children – those who are her own and those who aren’t – have a smile of satisfaction on their faces, thanks to a good meal?

We also run our Anganwadi feeding programme across 3,079 Anganwadi centres, reaching 1,52,041 children between the ages of 0-6 years. This programme is operational in seven locations of five Indian states. Besides caring for these infants, we serve our nutritious meals to close to 6,000 expecting and lactating mothers in 298 centres in Jaipur. Akshaya Patra knows that periods of expectancy and lactation are critical junctions in the life of mothers and children and thus ensures that they get ample food and the right amount of nutrition during this time.

Mothers are an integral part of Akshaya Patra’s philosophy. This Mother’s Day, support these wonderful women by helping us feed their beloved children a hot, nutritious school lunch every day! You can donate here.

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7 secrets to a healthy diet!

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Doesn’t a hearty, wholesome meal leave you revitalised and lift your spirits? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this feeling every day? A well-balanced diet can help us achieve that, as our physical well-being is dependent on it, along with an active lifestyle. A nourishing diet that includes all the food groups is vital for good health. Akshaya Patra’s menu ensures that the meals we provide to school children as part of our Mid-Day Meal Programme, which includes dal, vegetables, herbs, spices and food grains, includes all the seven components that a meal must have to ensure a truly healthy diet. Which are these seven components:

Proteins

Proteins are rightfully called the ‘building blocks of the body’. They aid the development, maintenance and repair of body tissues, including skin, muscles and internal organs, along with hair. Dals – served regularly as part of our meals – are rich in proteins, along with beans and legumes.

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds that our body needs in small quantities to regulate different bodily functions, including catalysis and metabolism. Some of them also act as antioxidants.

Leafy vegetables and fresh foods are a good source of vitamins, the deficiency of which in the body, can lead to diseases and complications.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates – sugars, fibres and starches – are an important source of glucose, which is converted to energy that fuels the body. They are also known to facilitate fat metabolism, along with affecting the functioning of the brain. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good sources of carbohydrates.

Minerals

Minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, calcium and others are essential for healthy bones and teeth, well-functioning nerves and muscles and strong immunity. Beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables, whole grains are good sources of minerals, along with dairy products.

Fats

Fats in nutrition refer to fatty acids. A high intake of certain types of fats can be harmful to the body, but the ‘good’ fats are essential for a strong body composition, good skin and healthy eyes. They are instrumental in the health of cell membranes. Nuts, coconut, coconut oil, ghee are good sources of dietary fats.

Fibre

Dietary fibres are essential for a good digestive system. They help us feel full, thereby keeping us from overeating and help maintain body weight. They also help regularise bowel movements and keep the bowels healthy. Wholegrain cereals, beans, pulses, lentils legumes are good sources of fibres.

Water

Water sustains life on the planet, so it is no surprise then that up to 60% of the human body is made up of water. Drinking ample water throughout the day is necessary for survival, as water is a major component of all the body parts and helps in regulating its temperature, along with maintaining other body functions.

Healthy Diet Infograph

The seven components stated above are all a part of the nutritious meals served by Akshaya Patra to school children across India. They keep classroom hunger at bay and nourish their health and dreams for the future. Help us fulfil our vision that no child in India be deprived of hunger by making a wholesome meal available to them every day.

Do you have any tips for making meals healthier and more nutritious? Share them in the comments section below!

Read more about Akshaya Patra here.

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God’s Own Kitchen – Author Rashmi Bansal Chronicles Akshaya Patra’s Journey

Akshaya Patra Book

A significant journey – one that inspires and restores people’s faith in all that is good in the world – always had the humblest of beginnings. Akshaya Patra’s voyage for the cause of ‘unlimited food for education’ also started in a similar fashion in the year 2000. Now, the Foundation operates the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Programme, nourishing over 1.6 million children across India with its mid-day meals every day. This wonderful journey is now chronicled in a book titled God’s Own Kitchen by renowned author Rashmi Bansal.

Engagingly told by Ms Bansal, the book’s narrative is conversational and free-flowing. It tells Akshaya Patra’s tale in a deeply personal manner, with insights into the minds of its founders, when the organisation was in its nascent stage. Behind the force that is Akshaya Patra lays the sweat and determination it workforce – past and present. The book introduces many key figures of the Foundation to the reader, including its current Chairman Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa; Vice Chairman Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa; Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services, TV Mohandas Pai, who has made significant contributions to the Foundation, among others.

God’s Own Kitchen is also interspersed with interesting anecdotes. The setting up of new kitchens in different locations is always a challenging task and their backstories are quite amusing. India is a vast and varied country and every region has its peculiar sociocultural norms. These presented testing obstacles when it came to recruiting and training womenfolk in socially conservative regions, law and order scares, blurring the lines of social classes among children, so that they have their meals together in school, and the like. The book also throws light on how the organisation honed its famed hygiene practices and standards.

Over the years, the organisation has found support in many noted personalities from different walks of life. These include the 42nd President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton; former President of India, the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam; one of India’s foremost businessmen Ratan Tata. The book has exciting pictures and stories of their visits to Akshaya Patra, including a photo of a cheque of Rs 12,000 written by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for Akshaya Patra!

Classroom hunger is a bane that needs to be destroyed immediately. As the author says in her note in the book, “Let us open our hearts, or minds and our wallets to eradicate hunger from this country. Students and CEOs, swamis and socialites – we can do this together.” The cause needs the support of a greater number of hearts and minds and what better way to chronicle Akshaya Patra’s tireless service to it, than this wonderful book!

You can buy God’s Own Kitchen here.

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Two words, one sentence. Thank You!

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Two words, one sentence. Thank You!

Our Mid-Day Meal Programme has received immense support and we are deeply grateful on behalf of all the children whose lives have been transformed and continue to be.

Today as we look back, we understand that internet and technology have played a key role in communicating our efforts and our initiatives. With the availability of advanced communication tools, reaching out to public for their support has been less of a challenge and more of an encouragement.

FirstWire Apps, a mobile application developer has helped us pro bono with developing an app for our official blog. With more than 100+ clients in blogging space alone, FirstWire Apps is committed to providing their service to a wide range of industries. To know more about their features, click here.

firstwireapp

Since 2010, we have been actively blogging about classroom hunger, food security, environment, educational rights, and in doing so, we have been inviting people to be a part of our perspective. Our words meet the eyes of readers via social media, website and of course, our blogging platform. With the new blogging app for Android users, we believe reading will be much easier!

                       Thanks to FirstWire Apps for their hour-long efforts in developing the app and for bringing in this change.

                                                                                                       You can download the app here.

 

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Akshaya Patra’s Passioneers are a tireless workforce!

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The year 2015-16 has been quite a special one for The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The organisation reached notable milestones, made new beginnings and received prestigious honours. The force behind the Foundation’s sustained momentum in serving the children of the nation, and its many achievements, is its dedicated workforce, toiling tirelessly behind the scenes, to serve its cause of ‘unlimited food for education’. The Akshaya Patra annual report for 2015-16 unmasks and celebrates these previously faceless entities.

Titled The Passioneers – Bound By Purpose. Driven By Passion, the report paints intimate portraits of people from the Foundation’s workforce, with beautifully done illustrations. These include stories of P Venkatesh in Ballari, who works as a driver, delivering Akshaya Patra’s food to the beneficiary schools; Meena Devi from Vrindavan, who cleans the crates, helps cut vegetables and cleans the dal. Then, there is Ved Prakash, who cleans the kitchen, the vessels and connectors in Vrindavan, along with handling many other processes. The annual report introduces us to many such employees, whose hard work and commitment has brought the organisation to its current position, where it stands tall and proud.

Having won numerous prestigious awards for its annual reports over the years, The Passioneers thus presents the organisation’s financials in its imaginative style. It reiterates the Foundation’s vision and mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020. Needless to say, it also includes the financial highlights for the year, accounting for every penny received by the Foundation, in a bid to maintain maximum transparency. Here are some important financials from the report:

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ComparativeNumberOfMeals_499X333

 

donations_Received_499X333

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The year 2015-16 saw the organisation reach significant milestones, the biggest being the serving of 2 billion meals since its inception. In the same year, its Chairman, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, was conferred India’s fourth highest civilian award – the Padma Shri. The report carries excerpts from an interview with him, where he speaks about receiving this prestigious honour and how it will provide an impetus to the Foundation. Looking forward, the organisation has numerous plans for the future, which are touched upon in the annual report. Among these are mobile kitchens or ‘kitchen on wheels’ for providing meals to disaster-affected areas, along with cluster kitchens in Uttar Pradesh and Hub & Spoke model kitchens.

The future looks very promising for Akshaya Patra. The Passioneers  celebrates the tireless hands that hold up the Foundation and have been steadfast in their support over the years. Read all about them at  Annual Report 2015-16.

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