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Our Enthusiastic Intern Tells Us Why We Are A Great Place To Work – Part 7

Abhishek – Intern at Akshaya Patra

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. V.S.M. Rama Abhishek T., a student from IMT College, Hyderabad shares his experience of interning with Akshaya Patra.

Q. Why did you choose this organisation?
A. As a part of my MBA curriculum, I had read about the case study on The Akshaya Patra Foundation by Harvard Business School. Following this, I did some research about the organisation and got to know more about the humongous task it has undertaken to serve wholesome food to millions of school children. It is not an easy task to provide hygienic and nutritious meals to so many children across several locations on each school day. I have always been interested in charity services and after knowing about the service of Akshaya Patra I had made up mind that given a chance I will definitely work for this organisation. Luckily, I got a chance to apply as an intern and was selected to be a part of the Corporate Partnerships Department.

Q. How was your typical day like?
A. At Akshaya Patra, every day I learnt something new and interesting. I reported to my mentor Balakumar Rajaram and we discussed so many things which improved my knowledge. I enjoyed doing the work that was assigned to me. Besides this, the employees of the organisation were very friendly and I got a chance to interact with quite a few of them during tea breaks and lunch breaks. I must say lunch was the best part of my day… I savoured the tastiest and the best meal throughout my internship!

Q. What were the challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
A. I faced some challenges in with respect to the research bit of my work. But, my mentor Balakumar Rajaram guided me and helped me to improve my skills in it. I am very thankful to my mentor for guiding me and supporting me at all times.

Q. Any memorable moment you had at Akshaya Patra? What did you like the most about interning here?
A. I have multiple memorable moments to mention. I worked for one of the biggest events of the Foundation – ‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’. The event was wonderful and showcased the talents of the Foundation’s beneficiaries. The event was graced by well-known celebrities and some of the big donors of the Foundation. During the internship tenure, I had visited one of the beneficiary schools of Akshaya Patra and witnessed the way children enjoyed and relished their school meals. The students admitted that the Akshaya Patra meals take care of their lunch and it also upholds their hopes. Another moment was my last day of internship when my mentor and my team greatly appreciated my work.
I really liked the work here and learnt a lot. The guidance from the mentor and the colleagues was amazing. My mentor was always helpful and gave valuable inputs that improved my knowledge and skill. I liked the work culture and friendly environment.

Q. Why do you think Akshaya Patra is a ‘Great Place to Work’?
A. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a large non-profit organisation providing meals to millions of school children. The organisation is selflessly serving the children who are the future of our nation. So, the work of anyone associated with this organisation is not just a mere job, rather each one is involved in building the path for a developed nation. Besides, the work culture in Akshaya Patra is very nice and you can enjoy while working. Here, employees work with interest and commitment, not with pressure.


Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

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

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Discussion Room

Humans of Akshaya Patra – Jaipur Kitchen

Humans of Akshaya Patra

When most of us are fast asleep in the wee hours of the morning, there are few places bustling with energy. Each day at the strike of 4 a.m., different groups of people at different locations prepped up with safety and hygiene gears enter into huge kitchen infrastructures. Why? To prepare ‘meals of hope’ for children studying in government schools! And, so we call them the ‘Humans of Akshaya Patra.’

Meet some of our passionate members from Jaipur kitchen in Rajasthan for whom the only aim is to benefit more and more children with freshly cooked, nutritious, and hygienic meals on every school day.

Mukesh Chopdar, Pre-processing Helper (Production Department)

Mukesh-Chopdar

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working in Akshaya Patra since November 2009.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
I chose to join Akshaya Patra because it was an opportunity for me to work for a good cause.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
Prior to joining Akshaya Patra, I was leading an ordinary life with no real goal.

Describe your typical day as a pre-processing helper.
As a Pre-processing Helper, I am responsible for all the washing, cleaning, and cutting of vegetables along with ensuring that all the cutting equipment are properly cleaned and sanitised before and after use.

Why do you think thorough cleaning of raw materials is an important aspect of cooking meals?
Raw materials, be it grains or vegetables are generally not clean and hygienic when procured from the market. So, it is very important to ensure that all raw materials are cleaned thoroughly before being cooked. Since, we provide meals to children, it is our duty to make sure that the food we serve them is absolutely clean and hygienic. And, hygiene begins right from the pre-processing stage.

How has your experience been so far?
So far, my journey with Akshaya Patra has been good.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
At the end of the day, I feel mentally satisfied that through Akshaya Patra I am able to provide food to so many children. This food is helping children with their education something that every parent wishes for their children.


Om Prakash Sharma, Route Supervisor

Om-Prakash-Sharma

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working in Akshaya Patra since November 2011.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
Prior to joining Akshaya Patra, my life was good, but I must admit that life has become much better after joining the organisation.

What does your work encompass?
As a Route Supervisor, I have to check the vehicle condition as per the standard checklist, accompany the driver and helper in the meal delivery vehicle. I have to keep a record of food delivery time, vessel count, and ERP entry. I am also responsible to collect feedback from schools and inform the kitchen manager on a daily basis. I am the communication link between the school and the kitchen.

Why do you think there should be a constant communication between Akshaya Patra and schools?
Regular communication between Akshaya Patra and schools is necessary to maintain the quality of the programme. A good communication instils trust and confidence between the schools and the kitchen.

How do you address issues put forward to you?
After coming back to the kitchen, we review the feedback provided by schools. This is done on a daily basis under the guidance of the kitchen manager, so that, if any issue has been put forth by a school, it gets addressed in a timely manner.

How has your life changed after joining Akshaya Patra?
I am in a better position to provide for my family and that gives me a sense of satisfaction. Now, I am a more confident and happy person.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
Akshaya Patra provides various trainings to hone our skills. We get a chance to learn and be aware of many new things related to our profession. This gives me the confidence to carry out my work more efficiently.

Well, behind every great show, there are behind-the-scenes contributors. And, at Akshaya Patra, those contributors are our very own kitchen staff. Watch out this space to meet our passionate members from Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh!

We would love to hear from you, so please use the below comment section to share your thoughts and feedbacks.

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Discussion Room

Our Enthusiastic Intern Tells Us Why We Are A Great Place To Work – Part 6

Adrija – Akshaya Patra Intern

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. Adrija Srivastav, a student from IMT College, Hyderabad shares her experience of interning with Akshaya Patra.

Q. Why did you choose this organisation?
A. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a very well-known NGO working for a great cause and has a very dynamic background. I was lucky that Akshaya Patra visited my college with openings for summer internship with a fantastic digital marketing profile. Both the organisation and the work suited my interest and hence I chose Akshaya Patra.

Q. How’s your typical day like?
A. Each day was a new experience in itself. Each day I got to work on something new and by the end of my internship I realised that the things I learnt has been immense and enriching. Besides that, I had my time to chill and relax with my fellow interns during lunch and coffee breaks.

Q. What are the challenges you faced so far? How did you overcome them?
A. I believe I could not have asked for a more fulfilling internship for myself. The journey was incredible, and I did not face any problem in the work whatsoever. I am grateful that I always had my mentor to back me up at each step.

Q. Any memorable moment you had at Akshaya Patra? What did you like the most about interning here?
A. I had one of the best days of my internship when I got to be a part of the event “Giving Every Dream A Chance”. Since this organisation runs for the sole motive of empowering children so it was extremely pleasing to spend a day with those children who are the beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra and see them live their dreams so confidently and gracefully. It was an inspiration in itself.

The best part about my internship was interning under such a super cool mentor. I think it is extremely essential to be mentored by the right person, with good experience and values. I am thankful to my mentor, Vidhur Kumar, for bringing out the best in me all the time.

Q. Why do you think Akshaya Patra is a ‘Great Place to Work’?
A. The most important reason why I think Akshaya Patra is a ‘Great Place to Work’ is the selfless work they are doing for the nation and the world at large. This makes us derive a sense of meaning from the work we do. In addition to that, the work was super interesting with major takeaways and the work environment was safe, comfortable and appealing to work in. Every single person was very welcoming and of course, who wouldn’t love it when you get such healthy and tasty food each day at work!


Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

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

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Discussion Room

Humans of Akshaya Patra – Kandi Kitchen

Humans of Akshaya Patra

When most of us are fast asleep in the wee hours of the morning, there are few places bustling with energy. Each day at the strike of 4 a.m., different groups of people at different locations prepped up with safety and hygiene gears enter into huge kitchen infrastructures. Why? To prepare ‘meals of hope’ for children studying in government schools! And, so we call them the ‘Humans of Akshaya Patra.’

Meet some of our passionate members from Kandi kitchen in Telangana for whom the only aim is to benefit more and more children with freshly cooked, nutritious, and hygienic meals on every school day.

Padamalalita, Pre-processing Helper (Production Department)

Akshaya Patra Kitchen Staff

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working in Akshaya Patra since June 2013.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
I knew the social cause of Akshaya Patra and chose to join the organisation with the aim to serve the children. It gives me a sense of self-satisfaction to be able to help school-going children by serving them with healthy food.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
Prior to joining Akshaya Patra, I was a housewife.

Describe your typical day as a pre-processing helper.
As a Pre-processing Helper, I am responsible for ensuring that all the cutting equipment are properly cleaned and sanitised before and after use. I wash and cut vegetables and arrange all the ingredients required for the cooking or production process.

Why do you think thorough cleaning of raw materials is an important aspect of cooking meals?
As we provide meals to children, it is our duty to provide them with clean and hygienic food. And, hygiene begins right from the pre-processing stage. Hence, it is very important to ensure that all raw materials are cleaned properly before being cooked.

How has your experience been so far?
My experience of working with Akshaya Patra has been good so far. I feel proud that I am able to provide for my family. Also, now I am more confident about taking care of my children’s education.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
The very name ‘Akshaya Patra’ makes it a special to work. Being a mother, I know the importance of food for growing children. I understand that many families are not able to provide proper food to their children due to many difficulties. But, by working in Akshaya Patra I am in some way able to provide food to so many children and this wouldn’t have been possible if I had worked somewhere else.


S. Sai Kumar, Driver

Akshaya Patra kitchen Staff

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working here since July 2013.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
I was working as a delivery executive with a water distribution agency.

Describe your typical day as a driver.
Every morning I report to work by 5:30 a.m. After that, I conduct a routine check of my vehicle to ensure it is working well to avoid any kind of vehicle breakdown or delay in delivery of meals. The Supervisors assign duties to each of the drivers and we adhere to it. Once, I am back in the kitchen after delivering meals to schools, I wash and clean my vehicle.

Any specific problem you face while on your way to deliver meals.
Fortunately, until now I have never faced any problem while going to deliver meals.

Why is it important that food reaches children on time?
In my opinion, if children eat food on time, they will be able to concentrate better on their studies. Also, children learn by observing elders. So, if we are punctual in delivering meals to children, children will understand and inculcate the habit of being punctual too.

How has your life changed after joining Akshaya Patra?
I am happy with my duties and responsibilities in Akshaya Patra. As my working hours and working days are fixed there is no room for an any ad hoc summons and I don’t have to drive around unnecessarily. In addition, Sunday is a mandatory holiday, so I get time to spend with my family too.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
Working with Akshaya Patra is special because at the end of the day I feel satisfied for being involved with a noble cause of helping children by providing nutritious meals and supporting their education.

Well, behind every great show, there are behind-the-scenes contributors. And, at Akshaya Patra, those contributors are our very own kitchen staff. Watch out this space to meet our passionate members from Jaipur, Rajasthan!

We would love to hear from you, so please use the below comment section to share your thoughts and feedbacks.

read more
Discussion Room

Humans of Akshaya Patra – Ahmedabad Kitchen

Humans of Akshaya Patra

When most of us are fast asleep in the wee hours of the morning, there are few places bustling with energy. Each day at the strike of 4 a.m., different groups of people at different locations prepped up with safety and hygiene gears enter into huge kitchen infrastructures. Why? To prepare ‘meals of hope’ for children studying in government schools! And, so we call them the ‘Humans of Akshaya Patra.’

Meet some of our passionate members from Ahmedabad kitchen in Gujarat for whom the only aim is to benefit more and more children with freshly cooked, nutritious, and hygienic meals on every school day.

Bharat-Thakor

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working in Akshaya Patra for the past 9 years.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
Prior to joining Akshaya Patra, I was working in Vimal Limited as a canteen helper.

What does your work encompass?
As a Route Supervisor, I am part of the post-production stage. I have to check the vehicle condition as per the standard checklist, accompany the driver and helper of the meal delivery vehicle, record food delivery time, vessel count, and ERP entry. My work also encompasses visits to allocated schools and interaction with teachers and headmasters.

Why do you think there should be a constant communication between Akshaya Patra and schools?
Regular communication between Akshaya Patra and schools is necessary to maintain the quality of the programme. It acts like an awareness and feedback mechanism, where Akshaya Patra can share hygiene and cleanliness instructions to be followed while serving meals to children at school, and schools can give feedback regarding the quality and quantity of meals.

How do you address issues put forward to you?
Every day we review the feedback provided by schools. This way, if any issue has been put forth by a school, it gets addressed in a timely manner.

How has your life changed after joining Akshaya Patra?
I am in a better position to provide for my family and that makes me happy.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
Working with Akshaya Patra gives me a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. I feel proud that in some way I am able to help so many children which probably wouldn’t have been possible if I was engaged in some other job.


Vapi-Manna

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working here for the past 9 years.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
I wanted to begin my career with a good and long-term job. During the interview, I got to know about Akshaya Patra’s service of providing food to children. I realised that by joining Akshaya Patra I will get an opportunity to work for a good cause. So, I chose to join the NGO and I am glad to have taken the decision.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
I had completed my studies and was looking for a job.

As a kitchen supervisor, what does your work encompass?
As a kitchen supervisor, I ensure all team members work together and complete their respective tasks. I am responsible to maintain records related to production processes, and ensure adherence to ISO standards during the entire production of meals.

Why is it important that kitchen processes are in order and meals are cooked in a hygienic way?
The food we cook is consumed by school children. It directly impacts their health and development. So, it is essential that hygiene and orderliness are maintained in the kitchen during pre-processing, processing, and post-production stages of meal preparation.

How has your life changed after joining Akshaya Patra?
These nine years have made me more responsible. I feel good and satisfied for being able to provide for my family along with being able to improve lives of children in some way.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
Working with Akshaya Patra will always be special because it is my first job. Along with my professional growth, Akshaya Patra gave me an opportunity to grow as an individual. And, what more when every day I get a chance to serve the children of the country!

Well, behind every great show, there are behind-the-scenes contributors. And, at Akshaya Patra, those contributors are our very own kitchen staff. Watch out this space to meet our passionate members from Telangana!

We would love to hear from you, so please use the below comment section to share your thoughts and feedbacks.

read more
Discussion Room

Humans of Akshaya Patra – Guwahati Kitchen

Akshaya Patra Kitchen Employees

When most of us are fast asleep in the wee hours of the morning, there are few places bustling with energy. Each day at the strike of 4 a.m., different groups of people at different locations prepped up with safety and hygiene gears enter into huge kitchen infrastructures. Why? To prepare ‘meals of hope’ for children studying in government schools! And, so we call them the ‘Humans of Akshaya Patra.’

Meet some of our passionate members from Guwahati kitchen in Assam for whom the only aim is to benefit more and more children with freshly cooked, nutritious, and hygienic meals on every school day.

Tankeshwar-Boro

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working in Akshaya Patra since the establishment of its kitchen in Guwahati in January 2010.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
I was looking for a job and came across the opportunity to work with Akshaya Patra. During the interview, I was initiated to the Foundation’s cause which inspired me to join the organisation.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
Prior to joining Akshaya Patra, I was living in a miserable condition as I was unable to provide for my family due to financial constraints.

Describe your typical day as a cook?
As a cook, my day begins at 3:45 a.m. After completing all the mandatory procedures in the hygiene chart and putting on my protective gears, I begin the cooking process at around 4:45 a.m. and that continues till 8 a.m. After the entire cooking process is over, along with other cooks I take a break for half an hour and then resume work to clean up the cooking area.

What is the most important thing you consider while preparing meals in such large quantity?
I consider cleanliness and hygiene of the cooking area as the most important thing while preparing meals.

How has your experience been so far?
It has been a very nice experience. My days end with a sense of satisfaction that I am cooking meals for children who are the future of our country.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
Personally, Akshaya Patra has a very special place in my life. And, since the Foundation is working towards benefitting and bettering the society, it makes working with Akshaya Patra all the more special.


 

Saiful-Haque

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working in Akshaya Patra since August 2010.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
I was in need of a job as I am the breadwinner for my family. I came across Akshaya Patra’s offer and realised that while providing for my family I will also be working for the betterment of children. This motivated me to join Akshaya Patra.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
I belong to a very poor family and my income was very low too. This made it difficult to take care of my family.

Describe your typical day as a housekeeping staff?
As a housekeeping staff, I am responsible for the cleanliness of the entire kitchen. I ensure that the entire kitchen premise is clean inclusive of the indoor and outdoor area of the kitchen.

Why do you feel maintaining cleanliness is very important in the kitchen?
I feel maintaining cleanliness in the kitchen is a very important aspect especially when we are preparing meals for thousands of children. Hygiene and cleanliness is a crucial factor for the health and well-being of everyone who is consuming the food prepared in our kitchen.

What does the future look like for you?
My life has changed for the better after joining Akshaya Patra. My financial condition has improved and I am able to provide for my family in a much better way. I want to achieve more in life by continuing to work hard and sincerely with Akshaya Patra.

What motivates you to continue working for Akshaya Patra?
Akshaya Patra’s social cause of nourishing children with nutritious food and its systematic and effective approach to eliminating hunger motivates me to work with Akshaya Patra.

Well, behind every great show, there are behind-the-scenes contributors. And, at Akshaya Patra, those contributors are our very own kitchen staff. Watch out this space to meet our passionate members from Gujarat! We would love to hear from you, so please use the below comment section to share your thoughts and feedbacks.

read more
Discussion Room

Humans of Akshaya Patra – Bengaluru Kitchen

Akshaya Patra Kitchen

When most of us are fast asleep in the wee hours of the morning, there are few places bustling with energy. Each day at the strike of 4 a.m., different groups of people at different locations prepped up with safety and hygiene gears enter into huge kitchen infrastructures. Why? To prepare ‘meals of hope’ for children studying in government schools! And, so we call them the ‘Humans of Akshaya Patra.’

Meet some of our passionate members from Bengaluru kitchen for whom the only aim is ‘to benefit more and children with freshly cooked, nutritious, and hygienic meals on every school day’.

Akshaya Patra Kitchen Staff

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working here for the past 12 years.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
It all started when I saw a job advertisement in the newspaper. I thought of giving it a try and attended the interview. It was during the interview that I got to know the purpose of Akshaya Patra i.e. to serve food to children at government schools. This noble cause compelled me to join Akshaya Patra. And, I feel proud that I am in the service of children for more than a decade.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
I completed my PUC, but couldn’t continue with further studies due to unfavourable financial conditions. So, to support my family, I was on a lookout for a job.

As a kitchen supervisor, what does your work encompass?
As a kitchen supervisor, I am responsible to maintain records related to production processes. I ensure ISO standards are followed at all levels of production such as raw material cleaning and washing, vessel cleaning, plant hygiene, and keep a check on CCP & OPRP.

Why is it important that kitchen processes are in order and meals are cooked in a hygienic way?
Children are our future and it is very important to ensure that the food served to them is safe, hygienic and clean. Thus, we follow ISO standards of food safety in all our kitchens.

How has your life changed after joining Akshaya Patra?
My journey with Akshaya Patra began as a Helper in the food cooking and packing section. Then, I worked as a Route Boy and was responsible for on-time delivery of meals to schools. After completing three years with the organisation, I was promoted to my current position of a Kitchen Supervisor. I am very happy and proud to work here. My financial condition has improved, and I have resumed my education on a correspondence basis.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
Akshaya Patra is doing a noble work of providing food to children and by being a part of the organisation I am also able to contribute something to the lives of children. Additionally, Akshaya Patra conducts training sessions and employee engagement activities that improve our knowledge and skill, thereby helping us to perform better and keeping us motivated at all times.


Tippeswamy - Security Gaurd

Since when have you been working in Akshaya Patra?
I have been working here for the past 5 years.

Why did you choose to join Akshaya Patra?
I had an idea that Akshaya Patra is working for a social cause of providing food to children. This cause motivated me to join Akshaya Patra.

What was life like before you joined Akshaya Patra?
Though I was employed, I faced troubles in providing for my family and supporting the education of my children.

What does your job encompass?
As a Security Guard of my kitchen, I am responsible for checking and maintaining records on raw material receipt, take employee attendance, check employees at the entry gate to ensure safety, take regular rounds of the kitchen, check and regularise temperature of cold storage, and communicate shift allotments to employees.

How has your experience been so far?
I feel proud and happy to be associated with the Foundation. I am comfortable and look forward to continuing my service here.

How has your life changed after joining Akshaya Patra?
After joining Akshaya Patra, my financial condition has improved and I am able to take care of my family in a better way. Moreover, it gives me a sense of satisfaction because in some way I am helping thousands of children to receive nutritious meals every day.

What makes working with Akshaya Patra special?
There is a lot of discipline and regularity in the processes and functioning of Akshaya Patra. This instils a sense of responsibility and punctuality among all staff members. My association with Akshaya Patra has provided me an opportunity to get involved in a noble service. In addition, Akshaya Patra conducts training sessions to enhance the skill set and knowledge of all staff members and also conducts employee engagement activities which keep us motivated all the time.

Well, behind every great show, there are behind-the-scenes contributors. And, at Akshaya Patra, those contributors are our very own kitchen staff. Watch out this space to meet our passionate members from Assam! We would love to hear from you, so please use the below comment section to share your thoughts and feedbacks.

read more
Discussion Room

The life-sustaining drops – World Water Day

World water day

“Water is essential for a healthy life and environment. Replenish water bodies and make an effort to stop polluting the seas with plastic and sewage.” – Manjushree L.

“Every living organism depends on water for survival and we must save water now so it will be useful for future generations. I hope more farmers can implement sprinkler irrigation, a proven measure to reduce water wastage.” – Savitha M.

“The water cycle is an essential part of life. Water is very important for agriculture and generation of electricity. We must treat wastewater and use it for irrigation purpose.” – Bavitha K.

“Water plays a role in all aspects of life. We’re completely dependent on it. We must store and utilise rainwater for bathing and washing vessels.” – Vishwaraj V.M.

“Water is very important for building, agriculture, drinking, and general household work. Rainwater harvesting and water treatment plants can solve a lot of water issues.” – Santosh P.

These are the opinions of our future philanthropist, Manjula L.; future teachers, Savitha M. and Bhavitha K.; future singer, Vishwaraj V.M.; and future lawyer, Santosh P. They are all aware of the significance of water. But, is it possible for them to achieve their dreams without access to clean drinking water? Quite possibly not! Because, it is estimated that consumption of contaminated water takes away lives of nearly 1,000 children, each day.

Water is the quintessential element of life. It not only quenches our thirst but also affects our health and livelihood. So, what about those who have to tread miles of distances to reach a source of clean drinking water? Yes, there are more than 663 million people who do not have access to safe drinking water thereby affecting their health, growth, and progress.

Upon recommendation at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) for an international day to spread awareness about the significance of freshwater and how to conserve it, the United Nations General Assembly declared 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Since then, it has become an annual event observed globally on March 22. Each year, this day is dedicated to a specific theme related to freshwater with the theme for 2018 being ‘Nature for Water’. This theme will focus on exploring nature-based solutions to tackle and overcome water challenges of the 21st century. Since our ecosystem has already undergone excessive damage there is a need to restore ecological balance and only nature-based measures have the potential to provide sustainable solutions for rebalancing water cycle and conserving freshwater. Backing this situation is the Sustainable Development Goal 6 that targets to ‘achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030’ while also targeting protection of water-related ecosystems and effective sanitation management. It is reported that:

Sustainable development

Mindful of this critical situation, several not-for-profit organisations have taken up water conservation as their core cause and many others have taken measures to save water in their realm of services. One such NGO belonging to the latter category is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. This Indian charitable trust works in the sector of Mid-Day Meal Scheme providing freshly cooked nutritious meals to more than 1.6 million government school children from their 34 kitchen units located in 12 states of India.

All the kitchens cook up a variety of nutrition-rich meals every day, making potable water one of the vital ingredients. To maintain hygiene standards, all the kitchens make use of RO purified water for its pre-cooking and cooking processes. Additionally, water is also required for other operational processes such as washing and cleaning of vessels, kitchens, equipment, and meal delivery vans. Being aware of the huge requirement and remaining steadfast in the hygiene and cleanliness standards Akshaya Patra has taken several steps to optimise the use of water in its realm of service. The NGO runs pilot projects in its kitchens focussing on every area of kitchen processes and upon achieving favourable results implements it in the daily operations. Some of the measures that have clearly resulted in reduced water consumption are:

Water conservation tipsIn conclusion, let’s be grateful for having the basic necessity called ‘water’ readily available to most of us. And, as our beneficiaries mentioned at the very outset let’s take tangible steps to conserve the precious drops so that everyone gets an equal share of this life-sustaining element.

For the benefit of children and environment, Akshaya Patra invites your participation in its efforts to conserve water. Share your ideas in the comments section and also spread the word in your network about the Foundation’s cause.

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Discussion Room

Donating for tax exemption – Will it help the society?

Donate and save tax

Hunger, malnutrition, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, child labour, homelessness, water scarcity, climate change, pollution, a threat to marine ecology, animal rights, natural disaster, and the list go on. These and more such issues are being battled nationally and globally by almost every nation. Hence, not just governmental intervention, but it requires the involvement of all – communities, corporates, and individual citizens for a society to thrive coherently. Undoubtedly, the government is responsible for the growth and development of the country and its citizens. But, it is also our responsibility to do our bit in countering various socio-environmental issues. And, one of the effective ways is to get involved with a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). Yes, NGOs are legally formed active groups working towards various issues in a focussed and strategized manner, and most importantly, for the sustainability of the society from the grass root level. Though independent of any government management and ownership, NGOs play a significant role in creating a synergy between all the sectors and communities of the society towards fighting for a cause.

Your involvement with an NGO gives you the opportunity to contribute constructively towards the betterment of the society. Comprehending the potential of NGOs, the Government of India introduced Section 80G as tax exemption in India to encourage people to donate towards charitable trusts by providing income tax relief. Under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act, the amount donated towards an NGO is allowed to be claimed as a deduction at the time of filing income tax return, provided the charitable trust or relief fund you have donated to is registered to offer you exemptions from taxes. The assessee can either claim income tax exemption of 100% or 50% of the amount donated as a deduction depending upon the criterions set by the Income Tax Act.

Over the years, there has been a visible change in the number of individuals who donate towards charity. According to the World Giving Index 2016, about 203 million Indians donated money during 2015 as opposed to 183 million in 2014. Simultaneously, there has also been an increase in the awareness of various issues. In addition, the government is also taking steps to ensure transparency and accountability of the funds received by the NGOs, thereby furthering the confidence of donors on charitable trusts.

Financial contributions play a crucial role in the operations of an NGO. And that’s why NGOs respect every penny of your donation and maximise its potential towards achieving their goals pertaining to their respective causes. For example, if you donate towards PETA, you are ensuring animal rights; if you are donating towards Save Green, you are helping to increase green cover and the like. Similarly, when you donate to Akshaya Patra, you are contributing towards school lunch for children in government and government-aided schools. This means while you are supporting a cause you are also saving tax under 80G deduction.

As they say, ‘change does not happen overnight’, it takes a lot of perseverance, commitment, and dedication. Hence, only with a continuous concerted effort from all of us can bring about the change we want to see. For example: when you donate towards the Mid-Day Meal Programme, you are supporting children to continue schooling by countering hunger. This will create a nourished and educated generation who will be assets for their families in particular and the nation in general. So, while you support the healthy development of children, you are also receiving income tax exemption.

Well then, wouldn’t it be a good idea to invest in a noble cause while you also save tax? Go ahead, be the change-maker. Choose to donate and save tax.

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Discussion Room

Let’s build a future free of hunger

Eradicate hunger

The Global Hunger Report released this year came out with an unexpected result about the malnutrition levels in India. The country which will soon have smart cities and has fourth highest number of billionaires in the world is ranked at 100 out of the 119 countries that were surveyed.

The Telegraph, a newspaper published from Kolkata, quotes Pramod Kumar Joshi, agricultural economist and IFPRI South Asia director, where he says, “Despite a massive scale-up of national nutrition-focused programmes, drought and structural deficiencies have left large numbers of poor in India at risk of malnourishment.”

The number is more shocking because all our neighbouring countries are ranked before us, except Pakistan which is ranked 106. India shares its ranking with Rwanda in East Africa.

Global Hunger Index

It is a multidimensional statistical tool which determines hunger situation in various countries. It is updated every year.

It is generated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and was first published in 2006. The international agricultural research center conducts a stringent survey before coming up with this report. With ranking, the report every year focuses on one topic. The topic for 2017 is around inequality and hunger.

Role of Akshaya Patra

The Akshaya Patra Foundation runs the largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme. It has been working with a mission to ensure that no child in India is deprived of education due to hunger. From our 34 kitchens locate in 32 locations across India, over 1.6 million children get their school lunch. The dishes are prepared in a way that the meal meets the nutritional guidelines prescribed by the Government under Mid Day Meals Programme. The programme has been running successfully with support from State and Central Government.

At Akshaya Patra, we continuously leverage technology in our state-of-the-art kitchens. These kitchens have become a subject of study. They attract curious visitors from around the world.

The food supplied from these kitchens ensure that the children get healthy meal once in a day. This ensures that they become healthy. Be a part of the change. Contribute with The Akshaya Patra Foundation to ensure that our future generation grows up to be healthy and well-educated.

Donate to feed the children and make a hunger free nation.

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