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Akshaya Patra welcomes Bill Clinton


The Akshaya Patra Foundation was visited by a very distinguished guest on 16 July, 2014! Former US President Bill Clinton, accompanied by Gururaj Deshpande, Abhay Jain and 25 delegates, stopped by the Akshaya Patra kitchen at Jaipur during his visit to India.

The kitchen is a part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment between the Deshpande Foundation, Ravindra Chamaria and the Government of India made in 2008, to provide $7 million dollars toward scaling up the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme.

At the kitchen Mr Clinton was taken through the operations process and shown how the kitchen produces 250,000 rotis (Indian flat bread), 6 tonnes of dal (lentils) and 5 tonnes of rice on every school day, in just three hours!

Clinton with his delegation spent an hour touring the kitchen and then visited the nearby Government Praveshika Sanskrit Vidhyalaya (Government Secondary Sanskrit School) at Sanganer where he received a warm welcome by the students. He helped serve the mid-day meal to the children, and spent some time interacting with them.

Impressed with the work undertaken by the organisation Clinton said, “I want to thank all of the students and teachers for the warm welcome. Cooking and distribution of food is a commendable effort and this is a remarkable partnership between the government, private sector business community and non-government organisation. Such a huge quantity of food prepared and served in efficient, healthy and sanitary manner is unbelievable.”

Clinton saw firsthand the impact of what good nutrition can do for the cognitive development of children. He and his delegates were amazed to see two tenth standard students from the school solving a complex mathematical calculation using the Nikhilam method of Vedic Maths, completing it even before even Deshpande could finish on his calculator. So impressed was he with their skill that Clinton asked Akshaya Patra to contact his Foundation for any assistance needed with their education in the future.

Explaining why the mid-day meal programme is so important to him, Clinton says, “I think that one of the great challenges of the 21st century everywhere, is to prove that we can create an inclusive democracy. And that’s not just political inclusion but economic and social inclusion. The programme we visited today is one that has been a big part of my Clinton Global Initiative. We try to raise more and more money for it. I think these sort of feeding programmes are very often overlooked by the political system and yet they have the greatest potential to do good. If I can help galvanize action [toward the cause] it actually saves lives and creates a whole different set of futures for these children.”

The Clinton Foundation under the CGI helps raise awareness and funding for Akshaya Patra from corporates and other agencies to help the organisation run the mid-day meal programme. “This is the finest commitment made by the Clinton Foundation in its 10 years of existence. It is wonderful,” said Clinton, eager for more organisations to support the programme.

Clinton also thanked Caterpillar Foundation for their donation of $2 million toward Akshaya Patra that will be used to feed another 100,000 children in Lucknow.

Clinton’s visit to The Akshaya Patra Foundation marks a proud moment in history for the organisation and we look forward to welcoming him back to India soon. In the meantime we wish the Clinton Global Initiative all the very best in their endeavours for the future.

Information sourced from: The Clinton Foundation, The Times of India, Deccan Herald, The Hindu, and NDTV.

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Project Akshaya Patra: An experience to remember


A student duo from a business school in Bangalore recently visited an Akshaya Patra Kitchen and a Government School where the Foundation provides mid-day meals to student. Here is an account of their experience as volunteers for the organisation.

First things first, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to work in a place that has provided us with a glimpse on the challenges faced by low income households of the society and the current education system in our country among the underprivileged. It has also changed our perspective on how nutrition can play a major role in every child’s life.

Here are some of the insights that we gathered while understanding the operations at Akshaya Patra. The visit to the kitchen was indeed a memorable one. We were happy to see that the food prepared in the kitchen was of highest quality, hygienic, nutritious and cooked with immense care. The kitchen was none like we have seen before, the cleanliness and the detail to hygiene while preparing the food was amazing, to say the least. We would like to specially thank the facilitator of the visit to the kitchen who gave us a very detailed tour regarding the kitchen and its operations. Being management students, this was like an education tour as well, where we could witness few of the concepts that we are taught at the Business School.

At the Government High School, Sarakki, where we taught children for three weeks, we were able to better understand how students were benefited by the mid-day meal programme implemented by The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The survey on food quality revealed that a majority of the students was highly satisfied with the food provided to them for lunch. They even went on to state that it tasted better than the food prepared at home. Most of the students were happy that the food was cost-free for them and some confirmed that they attended school just because the afternoon meal was served. This goes on to show how much the mid-day meal program has helped these students to get an education. Kudos to Akshaya Patra!

As a suggestion, we would recommend that any new volunteers coming to Akshaya Patra should get involved with the field activities at the schools. True learning and value addition, we believe would come only at Government Schools. As the volunteers get exposed to the struggles these students face, they would definitely make a difference in whatever little ways possible by them.

Lastly, we would like to thank the school for being very comforting and tending to our needs. We wish Akshaya Patra the very best for the future and hope it continues to serve children and help change lives of the deprived.

With regards,
Vishak EB and Sampath S
PGDM students at Xavier’s Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore

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Thirty days in a whole new world


The Akshaya Patra Foundation has always welcomed individuals who are keen on understanding our cause better and working with us. College students are often encouraged to intern with us and write blogs about their experiences. In May, 2014, one such student, Surupasree Sarmmah approached Akshaya Patra with a request to do an internship. She is a student of Media Studies from one of the most reputable colleges in Bangalore. Teeming with enthusiasm and creative ideas, here is Surupasree’s take on her time spent with The Akshaya Patra Foundation.

So it began with a phone call…

It was about 10 a.m. on 01 April, 2014 when I received a call from the Human Resource (HR) department of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. They called me to confirm a formal interview after receiving my mail regarding the summer internship at an NGO as a part of my academic course. After the interview, the HR Executive introduced me to the Manager of the Communications Department. I was very excited to get this opportunity with the organisation as I always wanted to work in a place that works for children, an organisation where I can share my time and knowledge for a cause that will help improve the place we belong to.

The very first day, my mentor and I sat together and formulated a plan for the entire internship. This was done in order to make work easy and systematic for me as I was new to the Department and had limited knowledge about the work. Since it was the first day, my mentor also helped me establish a cordial rapport with other team members of the Department. This initiation turned out to be very helpful during the entire tenure of my internship. I spent my first day by gathering basic know-how about the Foundation and its work. The next day onwards I started working according to the proposed plan.

Here is an overview of the charted plan. The plan was divided into two categories: content and creative. Under ‘content’ category, I had to submit four blog articles—one blog per week. These blogs were the account of my experiences during two school visits and one kitchen visit, and of the overall experience. Under the ‘creative’ category, I had to come up with an audio-visual feature with the element of novelty that can be used as a tool for online campaigns by the Foundation. For this I made a photo essay video.

The most memorable moments of my internship were the school and kitchen visits. It was amazing to see how millions of children are benefitted by the noble work of the Foundation. The direct impact of food and learning could be seen in children of the Government schools. It was indeed a pleasure to spend time with these kids who dare to dream big despite all odds.

They are enthusiastic, determined, creative and always willing to learn something new. They dream and wish that when they grow up they would help their parents to live a comfortable life. The two visits to the Akshaya Patra beneficiary schools were very encouraging. The students taught me to view life differently and to take everything positively. They also taught me not to worry about the things that we don’t have, instead to set a goal to achieve it. I got along with the kids quite fast and was glad to have shared some light moments with them by interacting, playing and posing for photographs.

My next visit was to the Foundation’s kitchen. There are two centralised kitchens in Bangalore, one is in Rajajinagar which feeds over 90,000 children and the other is in Vasanthpura which caters to about a lakh children. Apart from catering to Government schools, the Vasanthpura kitchen also caters to runaway children, drought affected areas and old age homes. Of the two kitchens, I visited the Vasanthpura Kitchen. My interaction with the kitchen staff gave an insight to how this humongous process functions. It was a wonderful experience to see how the kitchen operates 320 days a year to feed children with the most nutritious food.

On April 19 and 20, 2014, the Foundation organised a photo exhibition at Chitrakala Parishath, one of the prestigious art institutes in Bangalore. During the internship I attended the event and report my experience. This exhibition was a great success with over 200 people visiting us. This was a great learning experience on how a big event like this is organised in a calm and composed manner.

As an intern, I never felt overlooked at any point of time. Everyone at The Akshaya Patra Foundation is friendly, helpful and hopeful. They treated me like one among them and encouraged me to explore more. They offered me a platform to be independent and take up initiatives and tasks like that of a regular Akshaya Patra employee. An encouraging aspect of my tenure was that my suggestions and ideas were given equal consideration as those of any other team member and there was no ground for bias. I observed that this place is a perfect balance of work and leisure time. The most loved moment at the organisation was the lunch hour when everyone comes together and relishes the food the Foundation provides. The best part is the employees get to taste the same food that is prepared for the beneficiary schools.

Truly, I have enjoyed working with the Foundation. These 30 days of internship in this whole new world of hope, determination and courage to do something for the betterment of the society has instilled in me much more positivity and a sense of never to lose hope and of continuing to do good work for the place we live in to make it pleasant for everyone.

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