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Jayati’s journey with Akshaya Patra


Welcome to my summer project blog. I’m Jayati Sharma, a twelfth grader at Basis Scottsdale, a high school in the U.S. After having organised a benefit concert for the organisation, I’m conducting a research project with The Akshaya Patra Foundation, the largest NGO-run mid-day meal program in the world.

My main objective is to learn more about the noble organisation and to find ways to contribute to it further, while also focusing on certain nutritional aspects that make the program so successful.

What you’ll find in my blog posts are my thoughts on my travels: kitchen visits, interactions with schoolchildren, and interviews with a host of individuals working within the organisation. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I already am and find the cause just as uplifting and inspiring.

To read some of the posts and get a sense of Akshaya Patra’s real-world impact, please visit my blog: Akshaya Patra Summer Project 2015


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Me & You Campaign: Helping children help children

me and you

One child can have a huge impact on another child’s life with just a simple donation. Encouraging a child to do something outside the realms of academia in support of another child helps foster a sense of compassion and shapes a grateful attitude towards society. This is what makes the Me & You campaign organised by The Akshaya Patra Foundation inspiring.

The campaign encouraged young children from two international schools in Bengaluru to contribute something to our beneficiary children in Government schools. The campaign drove home the fact that by sacrificing something as small as Rs.63, even children can help feed an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for a month.

The campaign, which has so far run for one month, had youth volunteers from IIM Indore and Flame participating and encouraging students to sacrifice some of their small desires to feed a child. The first phase of the campaign was organised at Primus Public School on June 17, 2015. Volunteers from The International School Bangalore and Chitrakala Parishad joined the second phase of the campaign at Prakriya Public School on July 9, 2015.

The students from the two schools made generous donations, some of them even willing to donate their pocket money towards the cause. The 5th grade students from Primus school collated a generous contribution of Rs.66,000 which will be utilised to feed children in our beneficiary schools.

This generosity displayed at such an early age is heart-warming and will undoubtedly help the students become socially responsible citizens who make giving a regular part of their lives.

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TOMS Shoe Giving initiative promotes health and hope


“For the first time, I was given a shoe that was new and not worn by somebody else. I felt I owned something that I could be proud of,” says 11-year-old Ruchi, from Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

This is the impact of TOMS Shoe Giving partnership with Akshaya Patra. TOMS has partnered with Akshaya Patra to give new shoes to standard 1 to 10 Government school children to promote good health, education and self-esteem. Akshaya Patra received nearly 600,000 pairs of new shoes from TOMS as part of the Foundation’s ‘Beyond the Meal’ programme, and thus far has distributed over 524,000 pairs to students in Vrindavan, Nayagarh and Ballari. The remaining shoes will be distributed in the coming months.

Through the Beyond the Meal programme Akshaya Patra partners with corporates, individuals, NGOs and other agencies to address obstructions to the proper implementation of the mid-day meal programme.

TOMS2By enabling students to wear shoes regularly, TOMS and Akshaya Patra are promoting healthy habits in the children that will change their lives for years to come. Regularly wearing the shoes will improve their health by reducing foot-related diseases and exposure; their improved health will have a positive effect on their nutrition, class attendance and cognitive abilities, and also nurture a sense of pride and self-esteem among the students.

Since many of the students benefitting from the initiative have never owned a new pair of shoes in their life, the shoes act as an added incentive for students to attend school. The shoes being of good quality also help protect the students from harsh weather conditions, and from sustaining injuries.

D S Hiremath, Head Mistress of a school in Hubballi, Karnataka agrees with this saying, “It’s a fact that shoes or proper footwear doesn’t fit into the budget of many poor families. This is one of reasons why children walk barefoot to school. Because of these new shoes, many wounds and scars can be prevented, which can otherwise get infected and cause immense pain to the tender feet of children. If not prevented, along with their health these infected wounds can cost them study hours and distract the students from class room activities. These new shoes are very helpful for children to carry out their daily activities easily.”

“We don’t have proper roads in the village. It is mostly mud roads. Earlier when I walked barefoot, my feet often hurt and they would be covered in dust. I also had a lot of bruises and cracks in my feet. Because I wear shoes now, I can avoid all that. I have also learnt that I can get sick if I don’t wear shoes regularly as the germs can infect through my feet. Also, I think I look nice with my shoes on. I thought only children in the cities were lucky to own shoes, now I do too,” adds young Ruchi, with heart-warming honesty.

Thirteen-year-old Chaitra Mariyappanavar from Hubballi, Karnataka, also shares her experience of receiving a new pair of TOMS Shoes saying, “One day it was announced in the school that we have to give our foot measurement. We were shocked and very happy to hear that we were receiving a new pair of shoes to wear. When distribution started in the school, on that day we were all eagerly waited in the line to get our pairs of shoes, thinking about how they will look and how I will look after wearing the shoes. Finally I got shoes and felt very happy. In the evening when I went home and showed them to parents, they also felt very happy. The next day my parents came to school and conveyed their thanks for the free shoes; especially such good quality shoes.”

“For the first time in my life, I was wearing new shoes, and for the first time I was going to school in complete uniform, I felt extremely happy and proud to go school wearing my new shoes,” Chaitra adds.

TOMS Shoes have had a profound impact on the daily lives of these children. “Walking barefoot can make it tedious to attend school. Now TOMS’ new shoes makes the school journey easy and pleasant. Wearing their own new shoes triggers a sense of pride, confidence and uniformity in children. Going to school is now more fun. The children also realise the importance and benefits of wearing new shoes. It also enhanced their sense of cleanliness. Eventually children can bring this awareness to the people they know,” says Shridhar Venkat, CEO of Akshaya Patra.

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What #IfHashtagsCouldFeed?


On their own they can’t.

As part of our yearlong #Project750 campaign, we have launched #IfHashtagsCouldFeed, a six month online initiative to inspire people to actively contribute towards ending classroom hunger in India. Conceptualised to raise awareness of the fact that while hashtags can do numerous things like highlight issues, start discussions and communicate emotions, unless they are accompanied by action they do not have the power to produce tangible results. In a nutshell, hashtags can help raise awareness, but alone they cannot change the world. People can.

Through this first of its kind fund raising campaign, launched on Social Media Day, we are trying to help people

  • Connect to our cause
  • Take concrete action that will have a direct impact on a child’s life
  • Spread the message via social media to inspire more people to make a difference

If you want to know more about #IfHashtagsCouldFeed, the video below says it all.

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5 ways to help us beat classroom hunger


Over the past two weeks, in our posts ‘Partner with us on World Hunger Day‘ and ‘Understanding India’s Hunger Problem‘, we have discussed the severity of hunger and malnutrition in India. Today on World Hunger Day, we’re here to ask you to ‘Do something great’ to help end this situation.

If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some ways you can partner with Akshaya Patra to help end classroom hunger in India.

Donate: Today we feed over 1.4 million children across India every day. But we’re on a mission to reach out to 5 million children by 2020. You can help get us there by making a contribution towards the programme. A small donation of just Rs. 750 is enough to feed one child the daily mid-day meal every day for an entire year! Help change a life.

Volunteer: Help get the word of Akshaya Patra’s work out there by advocating for us! Volunteer at our programmes, promote our organisation via your social media, blog for us, take part in any way that you like. Use your skills to make a difference in the world.

Fundraise: Help us by raising funds for our programme! We have many different kinds of fundraising options, or you can write in to us at with your own ideas. We also help you out in any way we can, and provide you with the basic branding collateral you’ll need. You can run your campaign individually, or with your friends. It’s easy and super fun!

CSR: Ask your company to partner with Akshaya Patra as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programme. Some of the ways by which we provide CSR opportunities are through philanthropy in funds and in-kind donations, cause-marketing initiatives and events and sponsorships.

Be a Fellow: Take part in the next round of our year-long, paid Social Innovations Fellows Programme where we give you the opportunity to make a social impact and develop your leadership skills. Get first-hand insight into the social sector and learn how to build and sustain social initiatives!

It’s really easy to partner with us and start making a difference. But if you’re still on the fence, here’s a quick statistic for you:

66 million primary school children go to class hungry every day in the developing world.

Still think the world doesn’t need your help?

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What is Project 750?


What can Rs. 750 get us? A nice meal out, some nice clothes to wear, two movie tickets – things that will bring us a few hours of enjoyment. But what if Rs. 750 could achieve more than we realise, such as a daily meal every day for an entire year! It sounds almost impossible, but it’s not.

That’s what Akshaya Patra has been providing to underserved children all over the country. For every contribution of this small amount that the Foundation receives, one child will be able to eat the daily nutritious mid-day meal, and stay in school for a whole year more.

Akshaya Patra has been raising awareness of this through their Project 750 initiative which highlights the numerous things that we easily spend money on every day, and offers the alternative of using that money to provide food and education to a child for a year.

Through this year long social media initiative which has been running from March 2015, gradually people have begun to realise that they have the power to change a child’s life and one day eliminate classroom hunger in India. To help us achieve this, donate here.

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Supporting mothers every day

mothers day blog

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


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.


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.


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


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


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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