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Volunteer to make a difference

International volunteer day

December is a good time to look back upon the year that’s gone by. This makes December 5 an apt day to be International Volunteer Day. Various volunteer institutions and individual volunteers, understanding the need for their contribution to society, have selflessly been a part of various volunteer activities throughout the year.

This reminds us of the recent floods in Gorakhpur and Gujarat, where the contribution by various volunteers has been commendable. They have helped the denizens cope with the damage caused by the disaster.

International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, also known an International Volunteer Day (IV Day), is a great day to recall all of their contributions. It is a day dedicated by the United Nations since 1985 to give a people an opportunity to make visible contributions.

Theme this year:

The theme for 2017 – ‘Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.’ recognises volunteers as the first person available to help times of crisis. They ensure their presence around us in times of need, save lives and support people. They brave dangers to help others. They are driven by the will to make a difference to those in need of assistance. This year, the day recognises contribution of such individuals and organisations.

Why volunteering?

The contribution by volunteers help in implementing new global goals. The development can be sustainable and mobilise and engage Governments and communities. It’s not about money all the time. While the individual and community benefits from the effort put in the volunteers, it can have a lasting impact on the progress of the individual themselves.

• Wellbeing

Volunteering for a cause makes a person feel a sense of accomplishment. According to The Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering improves psychological and physical health. It helps them build social networks.

• Resume building

Such activities help in building resume. The mention of these in your resume demonstratesthat volunteer work is also an important part of your resume. A history of volunteering activities in your resume shows your willingness to work for the betterment of the society.

• Positive parenting

Volunteer activities are important to teach children the importance of sharing and caring among children. Developing these emotions in children well in advance can make them responsible individuals.

Akshaya Patra’s role in social development

With a mission to ensure that no child in India is deprived of education due to hunger, the organisation performs a selfless task of delivering freshly-made nutritious meals to over 1.6 million children across India. The Foundation runs the largest NGO-run school lunch programme.

The meals are cooked in our 34 kitchens in 32 locations across India. The dishes are prepared in a way that the meal meets the nutritional guidelines prescribed by the Government under the Mid Day Meal Scheme. This initiative ensures that the children get nutritious meals once in a day so that they turn out to be healthy individuals.

The programme has been running successfully with support from the Central and State Governments.

Be a volunteer

The Foundation invites individuals and corporates to be a part of the cause by volunteering with us. You can either be physically present or raise funds for the cause online.

You can help the kitchen staff prepare meals by cutting vegetables. You can help in offloading the vegetables at the kitchen or help the staff in loading the trucks with cooked meals. You can serve children in school and organise some activities for children at their schools.

If time is a constraint, you can help the Foundation by sharing information about the cause on your social media networks. You can start a fundraising campaign on our website.

Volunteer with The Akshaya Patra Foundation to ensure that our future generation grows up to be healthy and well-educated.

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Gorakhpur Flood Survivors Receive Over 1 Lakh Meals from Akshaya Patra

Gorakhpur Flood Relief

DM appreciates Akshaya Patra for the tireless efforts of the team in serving over 1 lakh meals

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The Akshaya Patra Foundation was part of the relief efforts in flood-hit Gorakhpur city and its neighbouring towns and villages in Uttar Pradesh. Akshaya Patra’s employees from Bengaluru and Lucknow, worked tirelessly on the ground. they have served over one lakh meals to the survivors between August 26 and September 5, 2017.

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Customised Mobile Kitchen

This was made possible with the help of Kitchen on Wheels – a customised mobile vehicle designed by Akshaya Patra. The vehicle was stationed in Gorakhpur since August 26, 2017. It began with serving 5,000 meals on the first day. By September 5, over one lakh meals were distributed in and around the city.

The survivors were served Vegetable Pulao, Peas Pulao and Masala Rice and Theplas. The food is packed individually in disposable aluminum foil containers and sent to them.

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Distributing Food and Water

Many villages have submerged in water. The local authorities took help of boats to reach them. The nearest village which is submerged is 9 km away and it takes about 50 minutes to reach there. Apart from these, some more villages like Chauri Chaura, Sahjanwa, Maharajganj, Barhalganj, Campierganj, Sarhari, Nausar have also been affected.

The Kitchen on Wheels has been instrumental in helping Akshaya Patra reach survivors. With the help of kitchen staff from Lucknow and Vrindavan kitchens, the Foundation has been supplying freshly-cooked meals prepared in multiple cycles.

The transportation time for cooked food has reduced with the help of a mobile kitchen. The kitchen staff worked from 4 am in the morning and the process went on till at 10 pm. The initiative and food quality have been appreciated by the survivors. The increasing number of meals consumed every day are proof of this.

As we worked tirelessly to ensure that every survivor gets a full-stomach meal, volunteers from National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme, local hospitals and hotels, and some localities helped us in the endeavour.

The efforts put in by the Akshaya Patra team were appreciated by the District Magistrate.

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Engage With UsFood and Education

Developing A Hunger-Free India

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Watching our tri-coloured flag being hoisted on the occasion of Independence Day is a proud moment for Indians. Many of our ancestors sacrificed their lives to ensure that we live in an independent country. This year, we would be celebrating 70 years of the birth of our nation. The theme for Independence Day 2017 is ‘Forging Ahead Together for Continued National Development’, which explains that to take the country towards positive development, we need more than just a group of activists coming together and fighting for the cause.

Our country has a total population of 1.21 billion, out of which 39% are children, according to Census of India 2010-11. A report by National Center for Biotechnology Information states that children in the age group of 11-13 years are vulnerable to stunting, being underweight. Due to malnutrition in children, prevalence of wasting was observed in children in the age group – 5-7 years.

The report recommended skills-based nutrition education, fortification of food items, effective infection control and training of public healthcare workers, as a solution to improve health of these children. Role of NGOs is required to bring this change in the society. We all need to get together and eradicate malnutrition in India.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) annual report released in 2015, India has 194.6 million undernourished people in the country. It also had the dubious distinction of topping the list of 10 most undernourished countries in the world. If India is to ensure that its development goals are met, the stomachs of its populace must be full and its citizens well-nourished.
The psychological and physiological effects of hunger are well-documented. Hunger affects cognition, stunts physical and mental growth, affects concentration and is also linked to aggression in adulthood. Food insecurity adversely affects economies worldwide too, with losses running into billions of US dollars. Hunger is also one of the key drivers of crime, social injustices and oppression.

Perhaps the most disturbing casualties and victims of hunger in India are the children. Not only does it lead to children dropping out of school for economic reasons, it also affects their attendance, concentration, grades, self-esteem and ability to socialise and connect with people, and ultimately, future prospects. Child labour and exploitation are grave consequences of this very problem.

On the road to making India a developed nation, it is vital that its citizens are happy and healthy. A physically and mentally strong population translates into a formidable workforce that helps a country scale dizzying new heights. Also, if the country is to secure its future, its women and children in particular, have to be looked after with greater care. With concentrated effort and commitment to the cause coming from the government as well as the people, making India hunger-free is certainly possible.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation works towards providing nutritious meals as a solution to eradicate malnutrition in India. This acts as an incentive to encourage children to attend school every day. The school lunch programme, which was started in 2000, currently feeds over 1.6 million children in India. The Foundation aims at reaching 5 million children by 2020.

To develop a successful nation, our national flag was designed, keeping the ideology of positive growth in mind. Akshaya Patra supports this in various ways.

Saffron: This colour represents strength and courage. With our mid-day meals, we ensure that every school-going child is educated and also remains healthy. This makes them strong and ensures that they are confident enough to face any challenges in their life. They will lead the country towards positive development.

White: The middle band, coloured white, indicates peace and truth. It’s not only about eradicating hunger; nutritious meals relieve hunger and aid in bringing positive thoughts in the minds of children. This will ensure they don’t develop anti-social behavior. They will spread peace among the people.

Green: Green colour in our national flag represents fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land. Akshaya Patra has adopted various techniques to ensure that we follow environment-friendly practices in our kitchens. The Foundation has adopted a new organic waste-to-biogas system at its Ballari kitchen. It is capable of generating 120-150 cubic metres of biogas –the system converts vegetable and food waste to energy. The process also generates good quantities of organic manure. This way, we contribute to the growth of India.

Together, we can and we will make a difference! As our spirits soar high this Independence Day, let’s unite to put an end to classroom hunger. Pledge your support to Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Programme now!

Jai Hind!

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

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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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Unlock Smiles of young children with Akshaya Patra!

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What puts a beaming smile on your face? The sight of kids playing in the park? Your favourite song on the radio? The first rains? For many children in India, what makes them smile bright is a wholesome, nutritious meal every day. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, through its Mid-Day Meal Programme, has been ensuring that over 1.6 million children in 13,529 schools across 11 states in India smile with the satisfaction of having eaten a hot, wholesome meal. With our initiative – Unlock Smiles – we are handing over the key to revealing smiles of children to you. How, you ask? With the simple click of a button!

Akshaya Patra is currently marching towards its immediate mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020. We need all your support to ensure that children receive a full meal at lunch every day. As part of Unlock Smiles, all you have to do is visit the webpage and click on the smileys to unlock them. For every smiley you click on, you choose to sponsor a child for a whole school year. You can click on as many smileys you want, to sponsor an equal number of school children for the year. Isn’t the opportunity to feed a smile to children across India wonderful? So, get unlocking and reveal the pearly whites of happy children!

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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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Akshaya Patra – Enabling the creation of opportunities

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In the quest for equality, a society must ensure that its differently-abled citizens find much dignity, support and inclusiveness. To achieve this end and encourage a greater understanding of the issues faced by people with disabilities, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an initiative of the United Nations (UN), is observed around the world on December 03.

As with every year, this year too, the day features a unique theme –‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’. These are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN, one of which seeks to reduce inequality and ‘by 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.’

Akshaya Patra’s unlimited food for education initiative seeks to lead children to equal opportunities by ensuring that they don’t quit school on account of hunger and stay on to complete their education. Among over 1.7 million beneficiaries of the Foundation, there are many that are differently abled. In Telangana, there’s Sirisha, who has a hearing impairment. The young girl, who travels 2-3 km from home to school and back again, wants to become a police officer. Then, there is Afreen, also from Telangana, who suffers from a deformity in her right hand, which has rendered it immovable. She is encouraged by her sister, another Akshaya Patra beneficiary named Nousheen, to be positive and emerge strong, despite her condition.

The Foundation feeds many such differently abled and special-needs beneficiaries. The promise of a mid-day meal encourages them to attend school, study well and take active interest in its activities. The organisation wishes these special children every success and is confident that they are and continue to be an inspiration for many people across the world.

Donate to the cause of Food for Education and support the aspirations of children across India!

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Fun with Fundraising

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Glamourous galas and high-profile benefits are well-known methods of charity fundraising, but every endeavour to raise funds need not be grand. A small event in the neighbourhood too can raise a small but significant amount of funds. Akshaya Patra encourages engagement in civic-minded activities for fundraising and we are ever ready to provide guidance and support to those who are interested. If you are looking for some ideas to raise funds, here are some to consider while starting off:

Charity cake and cookies sale
Thanks to the rise of food reality television shows, a number of people are avidly interested in baking. Whipping up delicious treats in the oven can be great fun, especially when done with loved ones. Put your baking skills to good use by holding charity cakes-and-cookies sales in your neighbourhood. We were pleasantly surprised recently when two of our supporters, young girls aged 12 and 13 years, learnt to bake cupcakes and held a sale of these treats to raise funds for our Foundation!

Car wash
Who doesn’t like the sight of a shiny, freshly-washed car? We all do! Get together with your friends, neighbours and all those wishing to join in, and organise a car wash! Car lovers would be happy to bring their prized vehicles and have them freshly scrubbed and waxed. You could also have children put up a lemonade stand nearby to quench the thirst and refresh those attending, and raise some more funds at the event with the help of the little ones!

Cash instead of birthday gifts
Birthdays are a wonderful occasion – they give us the opportunity to usher in a new year with those who are most near and dear to us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to begin a new year in one’s life by collecting funds for a noble cause? Why not invite cash instead of gifts from family and friends and donate the amount thus collected to charity? It would be a truly memorable way to celebrate one’s life and also inspire others to do a noble deed on significant occasions in their lives.

A singing competition
Are there any troubles that some music cannot lessen? Look to this language of the soul to help you raise fund for those truly in need of your help. Organise a singing competition for a small fee and gift relevant tokens to those attending, so they are always reminded of having lent their voices to do good to society. A competition of this variety can reveal talents that are often hidden, and who knows, they may also lead the lucky, talented few to fame!

Handmade greeting cards
Greeting cards are commonly used for charity fundraising, but there is nothing as touching as a beautiful, painstakingly crafted, handmade greeting card. What could be a better way to express one’s love, admiration, appreciation, best wishes or gratitude, than a unique greeting card with a heartfelt message on it? Those blessed with artistic abilities can put their flair to good use by creating these cards and selling them at events like fairs, family gatherings or at charming little kiosks outside restaurants or malls.

Have you thought up a fundraising idea of your own that you would like assistance with? Let Akshaya Patra help you develop it!

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Engage With UsFood and Education

Food Security: A Step towards Peace

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Amid the cacophony of wars and violence in the world, the dove of peace finds it difficult to make a successful flight. However, peace remains something to strive relentlessly for, if we are to leave behind the world that is worth inheriting. The United Nations has dedicated September 21 to world peace, in a bid to promote peace education and prevent war.

The reasons for conflicts across the world and their impact on the livelihoods of people in conflict zones are many, but one issue that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is that of food insecurity. Food insecurity plays an important role, not only in driving conflict but also in sustaining it. According to a report titled Harvesting Peace: Food Security, Conflict and Cooperation, published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, food shortage and famine led to a never-ending loop of instability in countries such Somalia. High prices of food staples also triggered civil unrest and initiated food riots and food wars in numerous countries around the world. Food insecurity also provided an impetus for people to take part in conflicts and rebellions.

The onus lies on governments and the people of the world, to ensure food security for populations across the planet. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says that interventions related to food security can help build resilience to conflict. The FAO supported a government programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, giving kits to former combatants, which led to them forming a fruitful association to arrange food and integrating them into civilian lives. Such initiatives are necessary if the vicious cycle of food insecurity, violence and instability are to be broken. As American biologist and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug said, “If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.”

This International Day of Peace, bring contentment to the hungry stomachs of children. Help children secure one nutritious meal per day, which will help keep them in school.

Make your contribution today.

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