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Celebrate for a Cause

Celebrate for a Cause

We, the People of India | Creating a Progressive Future

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The power of the people manifested itself to win India freedom from an oppressive colonial power in 1947 and January 26, 1950, cemented its position in history as a republic. We, the people of India, are the ones who made this Republic; who continue to make this Republic.

Every revolution in the world started with We, the people. The will of the ordinary man fused with that of his/her fellow citizens to form a force. This force, against oppression, against the denial of basic rights, became a movement and permeated the collective conscience of the people. It instigated them to rise in revolt against the forces that kept them from their right to liberty, justice, equality and a decent life.

The preamble of the Constitution of India talks about ‘EQUALITY of status and of opportunity’. One of the important means to ensure this equality is by making education and its fruits available to the children of this great nation, who are brimming with potential. Making this a reality is full of challenges. A study conducted by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) jointly with Global Education Monitoring Report in 2016, found that 47 million children dropped out of school by Std X. It also revealed that India has the third highest number of out-of-primary school children at 2.9 million, who have never attended school. One of the biggest roadblocks to education in the country is poverty, the study found.

The statistics on school education in India may be worrying, but there is hope on the horizon. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme by the Government of India has helped the cause of education in the country widely. The mid-day meals provided in schools across the country have not only improved the health of children, but also resulted in a greater number of school enrolments. Akshaya Patra works in partnership with the Central and State governments of India to implement its Mid-Day Meal Programme, the largest of its kind in the world operated by an NGO.

With over 1.6 million beneficiaries in 11 Indian states, the Foundation’s ‘Unlimited Food for Education’ philosophy has fed the dreams of numerous children over the years. Its immediate mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020 every day, with a nutritious school lunch cooked in its ISO-certified, state-of-the-art kitchens.

Let your Republic Day celebration this year, be towards the fulfilment of the dreams of India’s young hearts and minds. Help the nation take a leap towards progress by contributing to a bright future lit with success and education.

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Give India’s children a happy New Year 2017!

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Adieu 2016, welcome 2017! The New Year is upon us – a time for new beginnings, forgetting past sorrows and imbibing the lessons learnt previously for a wiser tomorrow. It is also the time to count your blessings and be thankful for them. The dawn of New Year 2017 is a wonderful time to make a difference to the lives of India’s school children. Just as you have hopes and dreams for a brand new year, they too have New Year wishes. These primarily include wanting to study well, so that they fulfill their ambitions and secure their futures.

Akshaya Patra strives hard to end classroom hunger and feed the dreams of young school kids across the nation. It gives wings to the hopes of children with its unlimited food for education initiative, by means of a wholesome, nutritious school lunch every day. This is what helps in drawing them to school day after day, every year. Currently, The Foundation feeds over 1.6 million children, across 11 states in India, expanding its footprint in India every successive year. Its New Year resolution is to bring many more children under its wings and feed 5 million children by 2020.

The fight against classroom hunger is a collective one and it needs more soldiers to join it every year. If a future free from hunger and full of education can be envisioned, it can be achieved. Why not resolve this year to join the cause of ‘food for education’ and put your best foot forward to ensure that India’s school kids are adequately nourished? Donate now to the cause! We also would also like to know the New Year resolutions you have made to do your bit for a hunger-free India. Tell us the same in the ‘comments’ section below. You can also leave New Year wishes for our beneficiaries!

From everyone at The Akshaya Patra Foundation, we wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year 2017!

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Photo Contest 2016 | Click a Smile and Share

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Akshaya Patra’s online photography contest 2016 is now open for all! Click a smile and participate!

Click-a-Smile is our annual photography competition that has been acknowledged by about 80 countries around the world! Created with love towards children, this photography contest is a platform for all you shutterbug lovers to exhibit your talent through a meaningful photograph.

All you have to do is capture a smile and submit the photograph before the deadline – December 23, 2016! The theme is Child’s Smile.

How does it work?
Just like every year, Click-a-Smile calls for entries from all walks of life. If you already have a photograph of a smiling child (or children), you can share it with us right away! If you do not have any, get adventurous and explore – step out of your abode and capture the smiles of children; it could be in a park, near a lake, a quiet street, school, or even a market! We are quite sure photographing children is absolutely fun.

Selection Process and Winners
Our panel consists of professional photographers who will review, shortlist and select. The top three winners will receive a trophy, certificate and a gift voucher. And the top 50 photographs will be showcased at Akshaya Patra’s annual photography exhibition with full credit to the photographer.

All photographs must be submitted here.

Here are few quick rules!

  • Image size should not exceed 4 MB and must have a minimum resolution of 800 pixels
  • Participants can submit up to three photographs
  • The photograph must be owned by the participant

For complete list of Click-a-Smile photo contest rules, click here.

Get inspired by winning photographs of Click-a-Smile 2015.

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What is your Thanksgiving giveaway this year?

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The story goes like this. In 1620, a few pilgrims from Plymouth travelled in search of a place for resettlement. After they found a land, the Pilgrims began to settle down, but they had to survive a harsh winter. When spring arrived, they started farming with the help of a Native American, Squanto. Squanto taught the pilgrims how to cultivate corn, which proved successful in 1621. To celebrate this success, the pilgrims and the natives organised a feast which continues to be observed every year as a custom.

The arrival of Thanksgiving is always a delight; organising a get together with family and friends, offering a prayer of thanks and celebrating the feast. More than how Thanksgiving is celebrated, it is the significance of the festival which means a lot to all of us.

Harvesting (gathering of crops) is a global activity. Although Thanksgiving is celebrated majorly in the West, each country has its own harvest festival; Indian states celebrate harvest festivals during different times throughout the year.  Regardless of where we come from, we thank the Planet Earth for producing grains and pulses that are the sources of our survival. In India, almost half of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and the grains produced by a farmer feed thousands of people every day. A farmer to a businessman to a buyer, we are all encountering each other through one basic need – food.

Keeping this thothanksgivingbyakshayapatraught in mind, Akshaya Patra launched its Mid-Day Meal Programme, which currently feeds millions of children every day with ingredients that are grown on land. Over 1.6 million school children feast on rice and sambar (in South India); roti and sabzi (in North India) that are freshly prepared in centralised and decentralised kitchens. The Foundation also runs food safety labs that evaluate the food ingredients from farm to plate.

This year, let your Thanksgiving giveaway be something special for children. How about sponsoring a child’s meal for an entire year? Rs 950 is all it takes to feed a child for a year!

We urge you to share the blessings of Thanksgiving with Akshaya Patra beneficiaries. The organisation strives to guard children against hunger by providing mid-day meals in schools, thus encouraging them to attend school regularly. Our mission now is to reach 5 million children by 2020!

We wish you a happy and a meaningful Thanksgiving!

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Kannada Rajyotsava: What the Day is All About

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For everyone living in Karnataka, the first day of November is a holiday. This day, known as Kannada Rajyotsava, symbolises the birth of Karnataka. In other words, it was the day Karnataka was formed back in 1956. So, how did this occasion come to be?

Here’s a quick look at this historic day and what it is all about.

On November 1, 1956, all the Kannada-speaking states of southern India were amalgamated to form a new state. This entity was originally called Mysore, but the name was too reminiscent of the princely state of yore, which was why the name was changed to ‘Karnataka’ on November 1, 1973.

Kannada Rajyotsava is celebrated with much gusto across the state. The red and yellow colours of the Karnataka flag fill the streets and the flag is hoisted at important locations, while the state anthem, Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate composed by the great poet Kuvempu, is sung. The boundaries of religion, age, caste, gender and income blur, as the state unites to celebrate its formation. The occasion is a tribute to the state of Karnataka and celebrates its glory – from the notable progress it has made, to its ongoing development.

On this day, the State Government confers the Rajyotsava Award upon eminent citizens, who have adorned Karnataka with the jewels of their noteworthy achievements; Akshaya Patra’s Chairman, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, received Rajyotsava Award in the year 2003.

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The Akshaya Patra Foundation is delighted to have started its journey in this very state in Bengaluru, in the year 2000, by serving meals to children in five schools in the city. Currently, we provide nutritious mid-day meals to children in five cities across Karnataka – Bengaluru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Mysuru and Ballari, via its six centralised kitchens.  In Karnataka alone, we feed 5,09,252 children in 2,841 Government and Government-aided schools every day.

On this wonderful occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, the Foundation thanks the state where it was born and expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Karnataka for all the support it has extended. It also thanks its numerous donors and corporates, who have generously contributed to its cause of unlimited food for education. Please continue your support by contributing to Akshaya Patra.

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This Dussehra, Let’s Defeat Classroom Hunger

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The festive season has gathered momentum and it is now time to celebrate the victory of good over evil on Dussehra. Also known as Vijayadashami, Dussehra commemorates the victory of Lord Ram over the ten-headed demon king Ravana and of Goddess Durga over the asura Mahishasura.

If there is one lesson that history has taught us, it is that good always trumps evil, eventually. One evil that Akshaya Patra is trying to defeat is that of classroom hunger. Why is classroom hunger an evil, you ask? Here’s why:

Robs children of concentration
An empty stomach is a menace that gnaws at the mind and eats away at its ability to focus. In school, children need a full stomach to be able to pay attention in class and excel in academics. Classroom hunger pangs reduce the ability to concentrate, affecting children’s academic performance. This results in lower scores, affecting the academic along with children, which hampers their long-term educational prospects.

Health Issues – Lack of proper nutrition
Classroom hunger also means skewed nutrition levels of children. A well-balanced diet is of paramount importance, especially during childhood, when the child is in his or her formative years. Lack of proper nutrition and balanced diet during childhood results in health problems and also has long-term effects on the physical, mental and psychological well-being of the kids.

High drop-out rate
Classroom hunger often results in children dropping out of school to assist their families financially. Thus, young children are not only robbed of their childhood, but they are also burdened with responsibilities. A byproduct of this evil is that it encourages gender inequality, as young girls are forced to stay at home since their brothers are thought more deserving of an education. Worse still, they are married off to ease the financial strain on the family.

Behavioral issues
Classroom hunger also frequently results in behavioural issues among children. These include constant irritability and volatile behaviour. Various studies prove that childhood hunger causes anxiety, depression, internalising behaviour and leads to them experiencing more stressful life events. Hunger is also known to lead to issues with self-control and problematic interpersonal skills.

On this auspicious day, let us join hands and fight this evil together. Let us ensure that no child goes hungry; that he or she triumphs in life with good education.

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Gifts from the Heart: Joy of Giving Week 2016

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Giving. The word holds much power. It denotes overcoming a very human instinct – that of wanting to possess. This week, India celebrates the biggest philanthropic event – Daan Utsav (Joy of Giving Week 2016) – to encourage, recognise and applaud the spirit of generosity.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation would like to thank our generous donors for all the contributions they have made to us in the past and hope we continue to receive your support. While giving is often equated with cash or gifts, one need not always part with material wealth or possessions as an act of generosity and kindness. There are some gifts that hold enormous value and are touchingly personal in nature. Here are some of them:

Time
Time is valuable, irreplaceable commodity. Devote some time to people in need of your attentions, affections, advice or comfort. In a world that is rushing past quicker by the millisecond, with careers and aspirations taking the front seats when it comes to priorities, stopping by to give someone your time is a wonderful thing. Once gone, a moment is lost forever, so make the most of the chances you have today to make a gift of your time.

Patience
Patience is a virtue. It is precious because it isn’t intrinsic, but needs to be cultivated. One of the biggest reliefs is when someone is patient with your flaws and shortcomings. Making an active effort to be patient, with oneself and with others, is a gift that not only brings success in the long run, but also contentment and happiness to oneself and others.

Empathy
To judge another is easy. It takes little mind and heart to do that. To empathise, though, is entirely difficult. Putting oneself in the shoes of another, understanding their motivations and empathising with them, even though one doesn’t agree, is a courageous thing to do. Much hatred and bigotry in the world comes from lack of empathy, so this is one gift that could be the key to a kinder future.

Trust
The events that dominate public consciousness by means of news and information are largely negative in nature. In such times, trust doesn’t come easily. Being able to offer one’s trust to a fellow human being also means putting oneself in a vulnerable position. Those who take the risk and trust others, convey to people that they really care and are willing to go the extra mile for them.

Love
Iconic musical outfit, The Beatles, hit the right note when they sang, All You Need Is Love. The antidote to strife, violence, selfishness and despair most certainly is love. The biggest gift one can give to another is that of unconditional love. It leaps beyond the boundaries of time, distance, caste, creed, nationality, beliefs and religion and to create a magical experience for those giving, as well as those receiving it.

As India celebrates the spirit of philanthropy with Daan Utsav 2016, we wish you avail the joys of giving by donating the material resources at your disposal, along with your time, patience, empathy, trust and love and spread the light!

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Golden Days of Innocent Childhood Revelries

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Festival season is upon us and joy and merriment are flying thick in the air! Perhaps the pleasures of celebrating festivals are experienced best as a child. Here are five reasons why festival memories of childhood are always etched in gold:

1. Yummy special treats
Festivals mean food. Family members, particularly mothers, labour all day concocting delicious sweetmeats and special treats for the occasion. Meddling in the kitchen as a child is routine, as the tempting aromas waft out. Once prepared, the family gathers to eat together and the spotlight is often on the young ones, as elders gear up to feed the children. Gorging on these delicacies, particularly sweets, without cares like diet-consciousness which creep into the adult psyche over time, is an incomparable feeling!

2. Ganging up with the cousins
Festivals are a time for family get-togethers and this means ganging up with cousins and having a blast with them! Playing all day long with siblings and cousins – be it catch-and-cook, hide-and-seek, hopscotch, or bursting crackers, the carefree revelries add to the magic of childhood. Running around while the elders are busy catching up and having their animated conversations adds to the festive cheer in the house!

3. Receiving gifts
Who doesn’t like receiving gifts? We all do! But receiving gifts as a child is a very, very special affair. Be it that new toy that one coveted, a board game that one has wanted for long, the shiny new shoes or a gift of cash to add to the piggy bank, festival time begets all this! Covered in bright, sparkly gift-wrapping paper, these presents are remembered for a long time to come!

4. Wearing brand new clothes
Festival shopping is an eagerly-awaited event. Heading out with parents for buying brand new clothes is a blissful activity! Sifting through the new stock of clothes to choose what is best causes much distress, but once one finds the perfect frock or a t-shirt that is sure to be the new favourite, the mood turns bright indeed! Wearing these brand new clothes on the day of the festival and clicking a ton of pictures with family and friends cements the wonderful memories in time.

5. Holiday time
One of the best things about festivals is that they bring in the holidays! Whether it is a day’s holiday or a long one of two weeks, festivals mean a break from school. One can sleep for as long as one wants and watch all their favourite cartoons on television. Lazing around, playing games throughout the day, going on a family vacation for a few days – all this is permissible and doable during the festival holidays!

A time for merriment, games, devotion and lots of sweet and savoury treats – festival time is one to make wonderful memories, sharing food and drink with loved ones and getting pampered as a child. You can do your bit to add festive cheer to the lives of children across India and help them feed one wholesome, nutritious meal a day to keep them in school. Donate now!

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Every Milestone has a Story

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Children embody all that is good and noble about mankind. For a nation to make significant strides, it is imperative that its children are well-educated and well-nourished.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, through its mid-day meal programme for school children, has ensured that millions of children across India are provided with healthy, wholesome mid-day meals, so that children do not drop out of school due to hunger. Recently, the Foundation, which feeds over 1.6 million children across 10 states in India in 13,210 schools, celebrated having served 2 billion meals since its inception, in the presence of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Honourable President of India.

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Akshaya Patra’s journey too had humble beginnings in the year 2000, when the organisation started serving mid-day meals to 1,500 children in five schools in Bengaluru. In the years since, the Foundation, in partnership with state and central governments and with the help of generous benefactors, established its presence across the country. It now provides nutritious mid-day meals, cooked in its centralised and decentralised kitchens under extremely hygienic conditions, to school children in 10 states in India – Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.

Throughout the years, Akshaya Patra has shown much innovation and has been the topic of numerous case studies. Its state-of-the-art kitchens, many of which are ISO-certified, have also been covered as part of lengthy documentaries by the international media. The year 2012 was a very special one for Akshaya Patra, as it served its 1 billionth meal and was ranked 23rd among the top 100 NGOs in the world, by The Global Journal. In just four years since, the Foundation has reached yet another significant milestone of serving 2 billion meals. The organisation has its goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020 firmly in sight, as it pursues to expand its presence across the country. To view images of President of India commemorating 2 billion meals, click here.

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Raksha Bandhan – Binding Cherished Memories

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The special tie between brothers and sisters will be celebrated once again this August, as the festival of Raksha Bandhan – literally meaning ‘the tie of protection’ – is here. Siblings –those related biologically and those who have accepted each other as such despite having no blood ties, celebrate their bond on this occasion. The boundaries of race, religion, caste and social backgrounds blur, as emotion takes precedence. As part of the trademark rituals, sisters tie the rakhi, a thread symbolising their love, blessed with prayers for their brothers’ well-being and protection, on the wrists of their brothers.

The joy and enthusiasm of celebrating Raksha Bandhan is perhaps most prominent in children. On the morning of the festival, kids get dressed in their finest clothes, often specially purchased for the occasion, and many set out to meet their cousins and extended family with their parents, or get ready to welcome them home. After the rakhi is ceremonially tied to the brothers, the delight young girls feel while offering them laddoos, barfis and other sweetmeats, and eating the same, is quite something! Their brothers too take great pride in showing off their colourful rakhis, painstakingly selected by their sisters.

Once the ceremony is over, the children play with each other, pose for family photographs and proceed to have their meal, specially prepared for the occasion. The fanfare with which Raksha Bandhan is celebrated during childhood, along with its strong emotional resonance, makes for the most cherished memories as an adult.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation invites you to help enrich the lives of countless children across India and make their childhoods as memorable as yours, by extending the #BhojanSurakshaBandhan to them. Through the small act of making a donation to our cause, your bond of love will reach your little brothers and sisters across India and help keep them in school through our free mid-day meal initiative. Donate now!

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