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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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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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To “120 angels” with love: Gaurav Warman talks about his campaign!

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Gaurav Warman believes “everyone owes some contribution towards society” and that it is time he does his bit! From this altruistic intention, he came up with the phenomenal campaign, ‘Ride 1200 kilometres for 120 little angels’ that is transforming lives of 120 little children. He is a resident of Mumbai and is presently working with L&T Mutual Fund as the Training Head.

Gaurav’s campaign is a fundraising campaign to aid 120 underserved children by riding 1,200 kilometres on bicycles from Mumbai to Jaipur commencing from 9 December, 2015. The funds raised from this campaign will be donated to The Akshaya Patra Foundation towards the Mid-Day Meal Programme, under which 120 children will be provided one meal a day for an entire academic year.

In this interview, Gaurav talks about his association with Akshaya Patra and his inventive fundraising campaign that is inspiring people around us…

Why did you choose to associate with Akshaya Patra for this philanthropic activity?

I chose to associate with The Akshaya Patra Foundation because I liked the concept of the Mid-Day Meal Programme for school children and wanted to contribute in my little way.

How would you create a culture of philanthropy in your own circle?

I would continually endeavour to do special activities like riding bicycles for long distances to urge people in my social circle to donate for underserved children.

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How did you come up with this inspiring fundraising campaign?

I am extremely passionate about cycling and I just thought of doing this activity on a large scale by choosing to ride 1200 kilometres starting from Mumbai to Jaipur. This is just the beginning as I will continue doing more such philanthropic activities to raise funds for underserved children in future as well.

What are your expectations from this campaign?

My only expectation is that the funds should be utilised for the Mid-Day Meal Programme for the maximum benefit of underserved children in the most transparent way. With this, we could give them the best possible quality and quantity of food for their development.

Your concluding thoughts on Akshaya Patra would be…

“Akshaya Patra has taken a very noble initiative by urging people to fundraise for a greater cause. I highly appreciate your efforts taken towards the society. Keep doing the good work. We are with you during this journey. And I urge more people to come forward for this cause to support the Akshaya Patra Foundation.”

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Open doors with Akshaya Patra!

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International Disability Day 2015 revolves around the theme, “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.” This day seeks to understand the issues related to ‘disability’ and how we humans can muster support for the well-being, rights and most essentially dignity of differently abled people. This year we focus on building an all-inclusive environment and an ever accessible society for differently abled people to fully participate in society just like others.

Often societal attitudes born out of bygone stigma and discrimination brutally impact the lives of people with disabilities forcing their self-confidence to either crumble or perish. We cannot let this happen! Being responsible individuals, it is our duty to understand and encourage people with disabilities. It is upon us to realize that ‘disability’ is also a part of the ‘human condition’ and should not be subjected to any degree of discrimination.

We should collectively endeavour towards building sustainable environs for people with disabilities so that they can empower themselves, realize their full potential and participate equally in all walks of life. In order to achieve this, there is a need for investment. Investment is the only baton to create equal opportunities for people with disabilities in sectors like education, employment, health and nutrition and social protection.

So what are we waiting for when we can donate to add value to their lives? Disability donations are the best way to show that you care for people with disabilities; to show that you too dream of a better world for them! In kind donation too is a great way of reaching help to those for whom mobility and self-sufficiency is a hurdle.

On this International Disability Day, join hands with Akshaya Patra to bring happiness to millions of such children in India who are being denied access to society owing to their disability. Akshaya Patra continually endeavours to help such children who do not have the required means to access education but aspire to study and grow.

Akshaya Patra’s nutritious mid-day meals helps open new avenues for differently abled kids as it attracts them to school and presents them with an opportunity to receive education just like another child. So let’s all support a great cause and donate to charity. Become an agent of change with Akshaya Patra, this International Disability Day.

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