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Celebrate for a Cause

Celebrate for a Cause

17 years, over 1.6 million children and still counting

Akshaya Patra Turns 17

Over 1.6 million children, 13,800+ schools, 33 kitchens, 12 states and the count still continues. Wondering what we are talking about? These are the milestones we have achieved in the last 17 years of our service to children. Yes, it’s our birthday on November 11!Over 1.6 million children, 13,800+ schools, 33 kitchens, 12 states and the count still continues. Wondering what we are talking about? These are the milestones we have achieved in the last 17 years of our service to children. Yes, it’s our birthday on November 11!

Journey through the past 17 years

We started with just 1,500 children in a school in Bengaluru, in the year 2000. The aim was to ensure that every school-going child gets to focus on studies without worrying about working to earn his or her meals. But then, we realised that there were many more children across the country who were forced to earn their meals. They were unable to attend school because of that. This made us add more kitchens to increase our reach. We currently have 33 kitchens in 12 states across India.

Hurdles faced

• The Foundation encountered its first challenge in the beginning of its endeavor when the vessels of khichdi would come back half-filled to the kitchen and there was no demand of a second helping. The headmaster of one of the schools helped the Foundation solve the mystery. He told us that the children need simple food, like something that is prepared at home. That’s when rice and sambar was introduced in the menu. Serving curd along with the meal proved to be a hit.
• Another challenge was to ensure that the food reaches schools on time. The routes were chalked out in advance to ensure that drivers don’t get confused and lose their way.
• The rice cooked in the schools was found to be sticky by the students. A machine was devised, which pushed the cooked grain downward. This ensured that the rice doesn’t get overcooked.
• With the staple food being roti in north India, the Foundation had to serve chapatis in the region. When making so many chapatis manually became impossible, the Foundation wanted to introduce a roti-making machine. Finding right one, which prepared chapatis in the way that children liked, looked impossible. After experimenting with a biscuit-making machine, which was customised to make rotis, finally the Foundation was able to deliver chapatis to the schools.

Milestones achieved

• 2000 – Started with feeding 1,500 children in Bengaluru
• 2002 – Understanding the need to serve children in north India, a roti-making machine was introduced in Vrindavan
• 2005 – The first de-centralised kitchen was set up in Baran. This was our first attempt to reach people in remote areas
• 2006 – Harvard Business School developed a case study on The Akshaya Patra Foundation
• 2009 – Akshaya Patra served 500 million cumulative meals
• 2012 – Served the billionth meal. Received Honorary Award on Social Responsibility by LASSIB Society. Ranked 23rd among top 100 NGOs by The Global Journal
• 2016 – Served 2 billionth meal

Awards won

• Chairman Madhu Pandit Dasa honoured with the Padma Shri in 2016, in recognition of the distinguished service rendered by Akshaya Patra towards the children of India
• Akshaya Patra awarded with Nikkei Asia Prize in 2016, in the category of ‘Economic & Business Innovation’ for bringing about socioeconomic development in Asia
• Received Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Memorial Award for Innovation in Governance
• Platinum Award at PRCI Collateral Awards, 2016 was presented to Akshaya Patra
• We became the first ever NGO to be inducted into the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’s (ICAI) Hall of Fame
• Awarded with the ABP News Positive Award in 2015
• Akshaya Patra conferred with the Asian MAKE (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise) award by CII (Confederation of Indian Industry).

Donors appreciate

Thanks to all at Akshaya Patra who strive hard from the wee hours of the morning to get hygienic and nutritious meals out to children daily!

Veena Thimmaya, Director SA Global India

Charity means helping the hapless, the needy and the infirm in whatever way I can. That way, I can make them feel that they are not alone in this world. I am particularly impressed with the efficiency of the kitchens and the sincerity of the people manning the units at Akshaya Patra.

GP Girija Shankar, retired senior banker

Keeping our corporate philosophy of focusing on water conservation, providing nutritious food and education for school children, we are pleased to have been associated with Akshaya Patra. We are particularly impressed with the back end kitchen facilities which were hygienically clean. Wishing the children a great future under your patronage.

Harish Mehta, Senior General Manager, Dhanuka Agritech Limited

On this National Education Day, when we also celebrate our birthday, we feel proud of nourishing over 1.6 million children and helping them aspire for a better future. While the journey has been exciting and challenging, the response we have received is overwhelming. It makes us happy to see children motivated to come to school and focus on studies, rather than being forced to work. They are assured a wholesome meal in a day.

Working towards the same cause of ensuring education for all, Akshaya Patra aspires to serve 5 million children. Support us in our cause. Donate Today.

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Gifts from the Heart: Joy of Giving Week 2017

Joy of giving 2017

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 2017) – 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 2017, 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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This Raksha Bandhan, Meet The Brother And Sister Duo Who Want To Nab Criminals And Build Buildings

Raksha Bandhan

In a quiet lane of Nagpur’s Khamla area lies a small school by the name of Nishatai Wankhede Uchcha Prathamik Shala (Nishatai Wankhede Higher Primary School). Here, we met an adorable brother-sister duo – Aarti and Mohit Patle – studying in Std VII and Std VI respectively. The school knows them as siblings who can never be separated. That’s how we got to speak with them together and also got to experience the love they have for each other.

Mohit considers Daya from CID, a popular TV show, as his inspiration. The character has motivated him to join Crime Investigation Department as his career option after he grows up. “I want to become a CID (Crime Investigation Department) officer because I love the TV show CID. I like it when ACP Pradyuman says ‘Daya, darwaza todo!’ (Daya, break the door!).”

When asked to elaborate on his ambitions, he says, “I want to nab criminals. I like the way CID officers hold their guns and catch criminals. To be eligible to take up such a job, I need to study well and build my strength. I exercise and run every day to be fit and qualify for the same. He counts English, Hindi and Mathematics as his favourite subjects and kabaddi as his most liked sport. “I like reading in English. I communicate with my friends in Hindi. I like challenges and with Mathematics, I get to solve the sums. Therefore, I like the subject.” he adds.

Mohit’s 13-year-old sister Aarti, studying in Std VII, looked at him fondly as he speaks with us. When we asked her about her ambition, she says that she sees herself as a civil engineer in future.

“I want to design buildings. I enjoy drawing. I would need this skill to make designs of building so I am happy about it,” she said. Her favourite subjects, she said, are Mathematics and English. “I like reading stories of inspirational people in English,” she continued. Her favourite teacher is her English teacher, Miss Dandekar, because, “She encourages children to study well,” she says.

The siblings’ family is the one that encourages their educational pursuits. Their father is an electrician and mother works as a house help. They have three other siblings – a 24-year-old sister pursuing a polytechnic course; another 20-year-old sister studying Bachelors in Science (BSc); and an 18-year-old brother who works for the upcoming Nagpur Metro project, whilst studying for the entrance exam for Indian Railways. All the elder siblings encourage and motivate Mohit and Aarti to study well so that they attract good employment opportunities in future. Their brother helps them understand lessons at home and ensures that they finish their schoolwork.

Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals served at school are well-liked by Mohit and Aarti. Both confess to loving dal and rice. Aarti added, “I like the masale bhaat served on Saturdays too!”

We hope the duo continue finding much encouragement and support to pursue their dreams!

Support other children like Mohit and Aarti through our NGO. Donate Today.

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Engage With Us

Akshaya Patra’s takes considerable measures for water conservation and sustainable practices

Water-Conservation-WorldWaterDay

All life-force on the planet is sustained by that vital element of nature – water. Water scarcity and lack of potable water have become grave concerns, thanks primarily to exploding human population and climate change. The problem is even more severe in the summer season, as heat scorches the earth. The need to conserve, recycle and reuse water should sit at the top of the list of priorities of governments, organisations and individuals, if this life-sustaining force is to be available to one and all. At Akshaya Patra, we have numerous processes in place to ensure that the water we use is clean and that we use it efficiently.

Feeding over 1.6 million children across India is a formidable task and we ensure that we make the most economical use of water. The activities in our kitchens that make use of water are preprocessing foodgrains, vegetables and pulses; cooking, packing and distribution of food; cleaning of vessels and equipment; cleaning vehicles and cleaning and maintaining a hygienic environment inside the kitchen. The technologies we employ to ensure safe water are:

  • Chlorine dosing – For chlorination of water to purify it
  • Multi-grade filters – Where water is purified by passing it through numerous layers of filter media
  • Micron filers – Where water is filtered using screens that have microscopic holes in them
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems – They purify water by making use of a semipermeable membrane, employing the principle of reverse osmosis to remove molecules, ions and larger particles
  • Ultraviolet (UV) treatment – Where ultraviolet light is used to disinfect water and eliminate harm-causing waterborne microorganisms
  • Ion exchange water treatment for steam production – Which gets rid of undesirable ionic contaminants in water

Water consumption in our kitchens too is reduced with the help of vegetable washing machines, rice washers, steam cooking, high-pressure jets for equipment and vehicle cleaning, vessel cleaning machines and vessel cleaning showers with tanks.

We also conduct regular training and awareness programmes for our employees to create awareness about water management and conservation. Wastewater generated in our kitchens is recycled. This recycled water is reused for gardening. Our kitchens, besides using renewable energy such as solar energy and biogas, also harvest rainwater. Thus, ensure that we minimise wastage and usage of water in our kitchens and grow in a sustainable manner. We will continue making intensive efforts to conserve, recycle and reuse water in the future to ensure sustainable development.

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Celebrate for a CauseEngage With Us

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?

thanksgiving1

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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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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