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Supporting mothers every day

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International Mother’s Day, celebrated on 10th May, marks a day to pause and acknowledge the crucial role that mothers play in shaping our family, community and country. At Akshaya Patra mothers play a vital part in the organisation’s philosophy, and the Foundation works to support them in numerous ways.

Akshaya Patra provides employment to over 2,200 women across the organisation. In the two decentralised kitchens alone the Foundation employs almost 1,500 women from self-help groups in the region. By providing equal opportunity for growth and development, regardless of gender, Akshaya Patra has provided an avenue for these ladies to become financially independent, improve their social standing within their community and they also serve as a positive example to their children.

Through the daily mid-day meal programme Akshaya Patra also helps to ease the mother’s burden of providing daily nutritious food to her child. Very often the beneficiaries of the programme are the children of the ladies employed within the kitchens. This has provided an opportunity for the mothers to prepare the tasty, nutritious food for their very own children, and ensure the children stay enrolled in school to get educated.

Jeeku Behn, mother of young Bharwad Gopal Hamili Bhai from Gujarat says, “The mid-day meal programme has made our life easier since all my four children are beneficiaries of this scheme. Most of our dinners are just a Bajri roti and Mirchi (Indian bread made of millet consumed with chilies). My children go to school with a glass of milk in the morning since it’s not possible to give them nutritious food with vegetables and pulses. It is difficult for us to afford such a meal every day.”

The Foundation also knows how important it is for mothers to have access to nutritious food too, especially during pregnancy and after. To support them during this time, Akshaya Patra provides healthy food filled with vitamins to almost 6,000 mothers across nearly 300 Anganwadi centres in India every day.

L. Kumari, a beneficiary of the Anganwadi programme, expressed her happiness over being provided fresh and nutritious food every day right from her pregnancy. “The doctor too has confirmed that my son and I are very healthy. We got to eat varieties of vegetables rich with vitamins and proteins which we can’t afford,” she said.

The secret recipe to Akshaya Patra’s food is that it is cooked with the love and care of a mother to her child. In celebration of this and mothers everywhere, Akshaya Patra made a short film ‘A morsel of love‘ showcasing real mothers from the kitchens preparing food for the young beneficiaries.

If you would like to help us support more mothers and their children, click here.

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Cooking up a storm

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Over 60 recipes in just 48 hours.

That was the result of ‘Cookathon for Karnataka – Improving Nutrition in Mid-Day Meals’, an initiative by Ashoka India, Akshaya Patra and Something’s Cooking, held from 10th to 12th of April, 2015.

The challenge of the Cookathon was to use local ingredients in creative ways to improve the nutrition of children benefitting from the mid-day meal. The event was a grand success with participation from 36 cooks and experts who battled it out for 48 hours coming up with nutritious and tasty recipes.

The participants were divided according to eight regions (Bellary, Bangalore Urban, Bidar, Chamrajnagar, Coorg, Dakshin Kannada, Hubli and Shimoga), and used common, yet often unnoticed ingredients from these areas.

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The participants were given plenty of guidance and encouragement along the way through Sunetra Roday, a nutritionist and retired Principal of the Maharashtra State Institute of Hotel Management & Catering; Chef Lars Charas, the Programme Manager of Feed the Planet from the Netherlands; Chef Manisha Bhasin from ITC Maurya in New Delhi; and Chef Ranajoy Chowdhury, Chef Samuel and Chef Senthil, three professors from the Institute of Hotel Management, Bangalore. They gave the participants a once-in-a-lifetime experience through their workshops where they explained how to measure calorific values, how to make complete and nutritious meals, recipe writing, costing, different food groups and more.

The over 60 recipes were evaluated by a panel of four judges, which included Ms. Vijayalakshmi, Assistant Director, Mid-Day Meal Scheme Karnataka; Mr. Madan, Chief Operating Officer of The Akshaya Patra Foundation; Chef Rajesh from MTR Foods and Ms. Sunetra Roday. The judging panel also included six children from close by Government and private schools. The dishes were evaluated based on parameters like use of local ingredients, nutritional value, size of each portion, and taste.

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The best dish selected by the judges was the ragi ladoo by organic farmers K Kallappa and his wife, Sumangala, who had travelled from Bellary to take part in the event. Describing their tasty creation (which was made of sprouted ragi, moong, wheat and jaggery ), Kallappa said, “The idea was to make something nutritious as well as ensure that it takes longer to digest so that children don’t feel hungry. Ragi is rich in calcium, battles anemia and has high fiber content whereas jaggery is rich in minerals such as iron. It’s disheartening to see rice and sugar taking over millets and jaggery which are actually ten times more nutritious. And that’s why we decided to show their benefits through our recipe.”

Some of the other top dishes chosen by Akshaya Patra and the judges were pumpkin chutney, jackfruit-millet pulao, soyabean dal, tomato rice, and will be adapted for bulk production. Besides these, almost all the recipes have the potential to be replicated in the mid-day meal decentralised kitchens.

Speaking on the event Ms. Vijayalakshmi, Assistant Director, Mid-Day Meal Scheme Karnataka said, “In over 32 years of service, I have never witnessed such an event. We now know of a large variety of things we can locally procure that schools to incorporate in their menus. We could also replicate this idea at the district level wherein women cooks can come and exchange recipes. This would highly benefit our children.”

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Axalta Coating Systems joins us to feed children in Gujarat

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Axalta Coating Systems has partnered with Akshaya Patra to sponsor the mid-day meals for students of the community near their Savli manufacturing plant in Gujarat. These meals will be catered from the Foundation’s kitchen in Vadodara. The company which focuses exclusively on coatings is a global leader in providing innovative, beautiful and sustainable solutions to their customers.

Speaking on this campaign Vinay Rajadhyaksha, Managing Director of Axalta’s operations in India, said, “Community development and associating ourselves with social causes which ensure sustainable development are part of Axalta’s values as a company. We are proud that we can contribute to society, and especially to the communities where we operate, by associating ourselves with an NGO that supports children and provides some of the resources they need for their education and, in turn, for them to contribute to the nation as they grow into adults. Reaching out to children in Gujarat with nutritious meals through Akshaya Patra helps us give back to the society in the best possible manner.”

This joint initiative between Akshaya Patra and Axalta is one of great merit, and will have a positive impact on the growth and development of this community where they both function.

Expressing the Foundation’s happiness over this partnership Jaganmohan Krishna Dasa, President of Akshaya Patra Gujarat said, “We at Akshaya Patra want to transform lives of millions of children across India. With our vision that no child shall be deprived of education because of hunger, we are moving towards our ambitious goal of reaching five million children by 2020. I thank Axalta Coating Systems for lending its hand in this journey. Its partnership further strengthens our determination to serve children better.”

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VGL Group: Initiating change through CSR

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Corporates have the power to do substantial good in the world through their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programmes. Through their funding, innovation and reach, corporates can initiate far reaching reforms that are capable of even greater impact than what individuals can accomplish.

In line with this, the Vaibhav Group of companies has tried to effect positive change in the lives of underserved children in India through their one-for-one initiative. In this initiative, VGL will sponsor one Akshaya Patra mid-day meal for every item sold at The Jewellery Channel (a VGL Group company), UK. TJC has already made a contribution of Rs.10 lakh to Akshaya Patra in this initative and will continue to support mid-day meals for 14,000 Government school children for an entire year.

To flag off this undertaking, Colin Wagstaffe Managing Director of TJC UK, and other dignitaries from the company visited the Akshaya Patra Jaipur kitchen, and also helped serve food to the beneficiaries.

The electronic retailer of jewelry and lifestyle products runs its main manufacturing facility in Jaipur (India), and has sourcing offices in China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia. Through this commendable initiative, the VGL group leads by example in their wish to make the world a better place.

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NMIMS student discovers the joys of teaching at Akshaya Patra

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Recently volunteers from business schools visited Akshaya Patra to train some of our staff in using Microsoft Excel. The employees who opted for the training programme were from different age groups, and departments in the kitchen operations. Bikash Tripathy, a student of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in Bangalore, was the instructor at our Vasanthapura kitchen. He was amazed by the zeal and enthusiasm shown by the employees at Akshaya Patra.

“I never expected them to show that amount of dedication towards something which they were asked to participate in voluntarily,” he said. As an example he mentioned Siddesh, age 21 and Mahadeva, age 35, who excelled at the training. Siddesh and Mahadeva have completed their PUC and do data entry jobs at Akshaya Patra.

“What made the initiative so enjoyable to me was the approachability of the employees. They did not consider me an instructor, but accepted me as a friend. I believe their spirit is what makes Akshaya Patra an organisation that students of my institute will choose to volunteer at year after year,” Bikash added.

– By Nitish Sahay

(Intern from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies)

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Buy a #TicketToCheer: Support your team and a child

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Raise the cricket fever to the next level by taking part in #TicketToCheer supported by ESPNcricinfo, foodpanda and freecharge! This initiative undertaken in aid of Akshaya Patra gives cricket fans an opportunity to buy a ‘ticket to cheer’ for their favourite team in the World Cup, and use their passion for cricket to support a child’s mid-day meals for an entire year.*

All it takes is four simple steps:

  • Select your favourite team and match
  • Choose the number of tickets, and contribute to the cause (Each ticket is valued at Rs. 750, enough to feed one Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year)
  • Receive your Ticket to Cheer for your selected team and match
  • Share your personalised Ticket to Cheer on social media

#TicketToCheer is a fabulous chance for fans to come together to support their favourite teams and celebrate the spirit of sportsmanship on social media, and change the life of a child at the same time. In addition to this participants can also avail of a 100 per cent tax exemption on all donations above Rs. 500!

So log onto #TicketToCheer right now to support your team, and help feed a child for an entire year!

*The initiative provides an opportunity for fans to express their support for their favourite teams, and underserved children through social media. However it does not provide access related to the ongoing cricket world cup.

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Fighting hunger with #MusicForMeals

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Saavn, India’s No.1 digital music service, has partnered with Akshaya Patra to launch #MusicForMeals with the goal of feeding 5,000 children the mid-day meal on every school day for an entire year!

This initiative is the first of its kind, powered by music listening on Saavn. For every hour of music streamed via their website on apps, Saavn will donate towards one Akshaya Patra mid-day meal for one child.

Speaking on the vision behind #MusicForMeals Rishi Malhotra, Co-Founder and CEO of Saavn says, “Our goal as a company has always been to be as impactful as the music we stream to millions of users every day. Just as we have become India’s music streaming service, we want the Saavn team and our users to make a lasting difference in the world, especially in India, where children are the next generation of students, leaders, entrepreneurs, and the future of the country. We’re launching #MusicForMeals so that our users’ love for music can translate into sending children to schools for wholesome meals, on a daily basis. We are inviting other companies to join #MusicForMeals as it is an opportunity for all companies to collaborate and make a lasting impact. As we add millions of users and streams this year, we’ll grow our support for #MusicForMeals alongside it. We believe music can truly change the world in every way.”

Saavn will make a monthly donation to Akshaya Patra which will be implemented across the Foundation’s beneficiary schools in India. They just made their first contribution of Rs. 3.12 lakh to Akshaya Patra this February.

Shridhar Venkat, CEO of The Akshaya Patra Foundation conveyed the organisation’s happiness over the venture saying, “We appreciate the philanthropic values of Saavn and thank them for #MusicForMeals. This initiative by Saavn will help in serving meals to many underserved children on school days, helping them with an opportunity to attend school, focus and learn.”

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An inspiring exhibition – A Wall of Hope and Joy 2015

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We recently hosted ‘A Wall of Hope and Joy – 2015’ our annual photography exhibition from 24th to 26th January in Bangalore! The exhibition which was hosted at Mantri Square Mall was a huge success, with crowds of shoppers streaming in to take a peek at the beautiful photographs up for display, as well as local TV channels and newspapers. The event was inaugurated by Praveen Methil, Head of Mantri Square, and Shridhama Krishna Dasa from ISKCON.

The exhibition showcased different kinds of images. It featured:

  • Images exemplifying Akshaya Patra’s work in providing the mid-say meal programme and its operations processes
  • A thematically designed display of images showcasing the experiences and emotions of childhood. The themes were ‘A belly full of fun’, ‘Moments under a hopeful sky’, ‘Chasing dreams’, ‘As you like it’ and ‘Feeding 1.4 million children. Every day.’
  • The top 50 images from Click a Smile 2014, Akshaya Patra’s annual photography competition. This contest was a resounding success with almost 1,500 photographs from nearly 50 countries worldwide being entered.
  • Akshaya Patra images from famous photographer Vicky Roy

The exhibition which was on from 11am to 8pm on all three days was a stunning visual representation of Akshaya Patra’s aim to eliminate classroom hunger, and its mission to feed 5 million children by 2020.

The exhibition served to educate the visitors on the need to provide food for education, and also remind them of the glorious times of childhood. It helped convey the message that childhood is a time of hope and joy, something millions of children in India are denied.

Through these inspiring, evocative images Akshaya Patra hopes to have touched the noble heart of the public, and sparked the flames of change for the future.

Visit the Wall of Hope and Joy 2015 photo gallery here.

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Fly beside your favourite celebrity

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Imagine what a grand opportunity it would be to spend an hour or two picking your favourite celebrity’s brain?

That’s the chance you get with Fly with VIP, an initiative that seats a lucky person beside a celebrity to chat and ask questions for the duration of a flight. The proceeds from this initiative will be donated to a charity of the celebrity’s choice. Akshaya Patra has been chosen as the beneficiary by Bollywood celebrities Amitabh Bachchan, R Balki, Akshara Haasan and Dhanush R!

Participants can vie for this opportunity in two ways: by bidding in an auction where the highest bid wins the seat, or by taking part in a lucky draw contest where each raffle ticket costs Rs. 100. The initiative also allows participants to place non-binding bids without any information regarding the celebrity’s flight date or sector. When the celebrity makes a travel plan, participants who booked in advance will take part in a one-hour long auction for the seat.

The auction for seats beside Amitabh Bachchan, R Balki, Akshara Haasan and Dhanush R for their flight on 2nd February from Mumbai to New Delhi closes on 30th January!

Click here to start bidding for the opportunity to spend time with your favourite star, and support a noble cause too.

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Register now for Click a Smile 2014

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Click a Smile, our annual international photography competition, is back! Better and bolder than before, we’re just raring to kick start our month long competition. So whether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, but you have passion and soul in your images, then you need to take part in our contest!

So here’s what you need to know about Click a Smile 2014:

  • You need to take a photograph of a smiling child (or children), from anywhere in the world, and send it in to us
  • The photographs will be judged by an exclusive panel of judges and the top three will be selected
  • The winners will receive a trophy, certificate and surprise gift from Akshaya Patra!
  • Competition dates: 20th November to 22nd December, 2014!

Click a Smile celebrates the innocence and joy of youth that can be seen in the smile of a child. This is our effort to celebrate children, and the need to make their formative years as secure and joyous as possible. After all, childhood is the best time of a person’s life.

Last year Click a Smile brought in over 700 entries from across 7 countries! This year we know we can beat that and raise the bar even higher. So log onto the Click a Smile 2014 website for more details, and register now!

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