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Food and Education

Food and Education

World Food Day 2017: Elevating the cause of food security and a well-nourished future

World Food Day

A basic necessity – food, sadly, is instead a luxury to millions of people across the world. The World Food Day, commemorated on October 16, to mark the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the year 1945, raises awareness about critical issues pertaining to hunger and poverty, placing a great emphasis on food security through its themes, which differ every year. In 2017, the theme for the day is ‘Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development’.

Food security is a concern for people across the world, particularly in conflict zones. Poverty-stricken population in developing countries are susceptible to food insecurity. Political instability and food insecurity form a mutually-sustaining loop that is difficult to break, leading to an endless cycle of poverty, malnutrition and hunger.

In India, food insecurity, coupled with issues like hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiency), complicate matters further. In August this year, news reports suggested that the Central Government had advised State Governments to ensure mandatory fortification of food items like wheat, edible oil and salt in mid-day meals for school children. Statistics of the 4th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) revealed that in nine of India’s States and Union Territories, less than one-third children were stunted, while in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya, more than 40% of children were found to be so. Over 50% of the children are anemic in 10 of the states and Union Territories.

Akshaya Patra is doing much to battle hidden hunger, because the right kind of nutrition is as important as food security for the population. In Karnataka, 4,45,698 children in 2,665 Government schools benefit from the Foundation’s school lunch which includes rice fortified with 7 micronutrients; these include folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron. Projects such as these, when implemented across India and the world, go a long way in helping the cause of nourishment-for-all and take the world a few steps closer to the dream of a secure future.

This World Food Day, let’s come together to ensure that every school-going child is well-fed and educated. Feed them today!

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Gifts from the Heart: Joy of Giving Week 2017

Joy of giving 2017

Giving. The word holds much power. It denotes overcoming a very human instinct – that of wanting to possess. This week, India celebrates the biggest philanthropic event – Daan Utsav (Joy of Giving Week 2017) – to encourage, recognise and applaud the spirit of generosity.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation would like to thank our generous donors for all the contributions they have made to us in the past and hope we continue to receive your support. While giving is often equated with cash or gifts, one need not always part with material wealth or possessions as an act of generosity and kindness. There are some gifts that hold enormous value and are touchingly personal in nature. Here are some of them:

Time
Time is valuable, irreplaceable commodity. Devote some time to people in need of your attentions, affections, advice or comfort. In a world that is rushing past quicker by the millisecond, with careers and aspirations taking the front seats when it comes to priorities, stopping by to give someone your time is a wonderful thing. Once gone, a moment is lost forever, so make the most of the chances you have today to make a gift of your time.

Patience
Patience is a virtue. It is precious because it isn’t intrinsic, but needs to be cultivated. One of the biggest reliefs is when someone is patient with your flaws and shortcomings. Making an active effort to be patient, with oneself and with others, is a gift that not only brings success in the long run, but also contentment and happiness to oneself and others.

Empathy
To judge another is easy. It takes little mind and heart to do that. To empathise, though, is entirely difficult. Putting oneself in the shoes of another, understanding their motivations and empathising with them, even though one doesn’t agree, is a courageous thing to do. Much hatred and bigotry in the world comes from lack of empathy, so this is one gift that could be the key to a kinder future.

Trust
The events that dominate public consciousness by means of news and information are largely negative in nature. In such times, trust doesn’t come easily. Being able to offer one’s trust to a fellow human being also means putting oneself in a vulnerable position. Those who take the risk and trust others, convey to people that they really care and are willing to go the extra mile for them.

Love
Iconic musical outfit, The Beatles, hit the right note when they sang, All You Need Is Love. The antidote to strife, violence, selfishness and despair most certainly is love. The biggest gift one can give to another is that of unconditional love. It leaps beyond the boundaries of time, distance, caste, creed, nationality, beliefs and religion and to create a magical experience for those giving, as well as those receiving it.

As India celebrates the spirit of philanthropy with Daan Utsav 2017, we wish you avail the joys of giving by donating the material resources at your disposal, along with your time, patience, empathy, trust and love and spread the light!

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Discussion RoomFood and Education

Literacy – A Tool to Word the Roadmap for Development

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International Literacy Day, observed on September 8 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), commemorates its 50-year anniversary in 2016. This day recognises the importance of literacy and promotes it through engagement on national and international levels. It is being celebrated under the banner ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future’ this year.

According to the 2011 census, India’s literacy rate was 74.04% (82 .14% among males and 65.46% among females). The nation has made strides in literacy rate, with active efforts from the Government and organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation through its initiatives like food for education, but there is still a long way to go. The cause of literacy must certainly be on the top of the agenda for social improvement, as high rates of literacy benefit the individual and society in numerous ways. Here are some of them:

Brighter career prospects
Being able to read and write enhances the promise of a brighter future and financial security. Literacy fuels the pursuit of education, which is a prerequisite if one has to make a mark in society and bring about a revolution.

Boosts confidence and creates better self-image 
The ability to read and write instills confidence in people. The very act of being able to understand the written word and express oneself in writing is empowering, both socially and psychologically.

Increases social and political awareness  
Literacy is one of the key cornerstones of a society that is conscious of its strengths and limitations and mindful of important happenings in the nation and the world. This enhances the public sense of social responsibility, powered by greater awareness.

Helps in discovering the joy of books, new worlds and new ideas 
Perhaps the most magical part about being able to read and write is the pleasure of being able to become lost in books. Discovering new worlds, ideas, stories and philosophies expands one’s worldview and makes them appreciate the staggering diversity of thought and culture in the world.

A keystone to nation-building and economic progress 
Literate, well-educated adults make it possible for a country to reach the summit of economic progress. This kind of development is inclusive, with equal growth opportunities for people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Literacy can also help combat gender inequality – a major concern that needs to be addressed throughout the world.

Let’s come together to educate the children of India. While this would help them in their personal growth, it will also take the country towards positive development. Donate for education in India today to support the cause.

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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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Food and Education

Hunger stops a child from being well-educated-and-informed

Healthy-Citizens

As we celebrate World Population Day on July 11, a fear that lingers in the mind of every individual is a recent report by the United Nations, which states that the population in India will cross the 1.44 billion mark by 2024. It is estimated to be more than that of China, which is the most populated country today.

The Global Hunger Index released in 2016 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) rates India as a country with ‘serious’ hunger levels. It further states that about 15 per cent of the population of the nation is undernourished. Adequate food intake, both in quantity and quality, is missing. It is a well-known fact that a hungry child cannot absorb lessons easily. And with the growing population, eliminating hunger should start from the basic.

There are various ways hunger affects education:

It affects their cognitive development: A child’s faculties develop during early childhood. Its brain develops quickly. Without the right proportion of protein, nutrients and energy in its meal, the child’s cognitive development would be greatly hindered. Therefore, a nutritious meal plays an importance role in the child’s development.

Increases behavioral problems: A hungry child can easily get irritated. They often face the feeling of being unattended to, may face several health conditions, would lead a stressful life, could face psychiatric distress and other conditions like depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and poor self-esteem. To raise a healthy citizen who would contribute to the positive development of the country, feeding them a wholesome nutritious meal is important.

Harms body structure and confidence levels: It is common to find that an undernourished child weighs less than his or her ideal body weight when compared to the height. Hunger can even cause weight gain, as unhealthy fare seems more appealing when hungry — especially the foods that are high in sugar and sodium. Both these conditions, caused due to hunger, can hamper their confidence levels. They could feel the need to be confined to their comfort zones, which would affect their learning.

Causes long-term health issues: Hunger leads to undernourishment, which impacts their immunity. Children who experience hunger are more likely to contract short-term and long-term diseases. This would force them to drop out of school or they might be absent for a longer duration.

Increases school dropout rate: Due to unavailability of food, children are forced to go out and take up work to sustain themselves and their families. As they grow up, the job becomes the priority and they prefer to drop out of school.

Increased efforts to reach out to all children, even in remote locations, can help us eliminate illiteracy due to hunger. Join us in our efforts to provide nutritious meals to children every day. Sponsor a child!

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Food and Education

Stepping closer towards our mission

Our Reach Akshaya Patra

The anticipation one feels prior to the arrival of a delicious meal, is unmatched. The joy that follows the sight of a steaming hot meal is even more intense! Isn’t it wonderful that over 1.6 million school children in India get to experience this very joy every day in the form of a nutritious school lunch from Akshaya Patra? As we scale up our efforts to expand across the country, the number of beneficiaries we feed every day is about to rise dramatically too! Thanks to the groundwork laid in 2016, the year 2017 will see us taking a significant leap towards our mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020.

In 2016, we opened our innings in Maharashtra with our first kitchen in the state, in Nagpur.  We also added two more locations to our presence in Andhra Pradesh – Kakinada and Mangalagiri. Towards the end of the year, in December, we laid the Foundation for our first high-tech mega kitchen at Khandi in Telangana. The construction cost of the kitchen will be covered by the Infosys Foundation, which has donated Rs 18.03 crore towards it. This kitchen will feed over 1,00,000 children in the region from the next academic year.

Infograph on Our Reach
Infographic: Akshaya Patra’s reach as of February 2017

We also initiated the process of setting up 11 new kitchens in Uttar Pradesh in the last month of 2016. The groundbreaking ceremony for the same was performed by Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Shri Akhilesh Yadav, on December 26, 2016 at Lok Bhavan, New Secretariat, Lucknow. Children in the districts of Varanasi, Ghaziabad, Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Etawah, Kannauj, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Rampur and Ballia will benefit from our Mid-Day Meal Programme after the establishment of these kitchens. It will expand our reach to 13 lakh beneficiary children in UP from the current 2,11,680.

We are striving hard to expand our reach across the country, where 179.6 million people live below poverty line. We urgently need your support to ensure that children do not suffer dire consequences due to hunger and lack of education. Walk with us on the road to eliminating classroom hunger now. Join the cause by lending your support!

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Food and Education

Give to Receive: feed children and avail tax exemption!

GiveToReceive

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread,” said the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Classroom hunger affects the health and future prospects of school-going children. This is an issue that needs all our collective efforts to be effectively tackled and eliminated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feed a hungry child and receive mental and material benefits from the act? We bet it would! Donating to Akshaya Patra not only nourishes the children of the country, it also brings you a sense of great happiness at having done a noble deed and avails you tax exemption!

The receipts acknowledging the donation will be sent to you within 10 days of making the donation – the tax certificate is generated within six days and reaches you within 10 days. The good Samaritans outside of India, who wish to donate to the Foundation need not worry either.

Isn’t it wonderful, this opportunity to bring about a positive impact on the lives of India’s children and feed their dreams? The benefits are reaped not only by the children of this country but by you as well. So, go ahead and contribute to the cause of ‘Unlimited Food for Education’ here!

You can read in greater detail about free donations here.

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Celebrate for a Cause

We, the People of India | Creating a Progressive Future

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The power of the people manifested itself to win India freedom from an oppressive colonial power in 1947 and January 26, 1950, cemented its position in history as a republic. We, the people of India, are the ones who made this Republic; who continue to make this Republic.

Every revolution in the world started with We, the people. The will of the ordinary man fused with that of his/her fellow citizens to form a force. This force, against oppression, against the denial of basic rights, became a movement and permeated the collective conscience of the people. It instigated them to rise in revolt against the forces that kept them from their right to liberty, justice, equality and a decent life.

The preamble of the Constitution of India talks about ‘EQUALITY of status and of opportunity’. One of the important means to ensure this equality is by making education and its fruits available to the children of this great nation, who are brimming with potential. Making this a reality is full of challenges. A study conducted by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) jointly with Global Education Monitoring Report in 2016, found that 47 million children dropped out of school by Std X. It also revealed that India has the third highest number of out-of-primary school children at 2.9 million, who have never attended school. One of the biggest roadblocks to education in the country is poverty, the study found.

The statistics on school education in India may be worrying, but there is hope on the horizon. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme by the Government of India has helped the cause of education in the country widely. The mid-day meals provided in schools across the country have not only improved the health of children, but also resulted in a greater number of school enrolments. Akshaya Patra works in partnership with the Central and State governments of India to implement its Mid-Day Meal Programme, the largest of its kind in the world operated by an NGO.

With over 1.6 million beneficiaries in 11 Indian states, the Foundation’s ‘Unlimited Food for Education’ philosophy has fed the dreams of numerous children over the years. Its immediate mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020 every day, with a nutritious school lunch cooked in its ISO-certified, state-of-the-art kitchens.

Let your Republic Day celebration this year, be towards the fulfilment of the dreams of India’s young hearts and minds. Help the nation take a leap towards progress by contributing to a bright future lit with success and education.

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Food and Education

Akshaya Patra’s Annual Reports – Setting the benchmark for excellence and creativity

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The recently-released Akshaya Patra Annual Report for 2015-16, titled The Passioneers – Bound By Purpose. Driven By Passion, upholds a long tradition of the Foundation’s creative excellence in financial reporting. For the past few years, the organisation has been winning prestigious international and national awards for its highly creative, theme-based presentation of financials. The report this year takes people behind-the-scenes to paint intimate portraits of the faceless people who make the organisation. It includes engagingly told stories of members from different arms of the Foundation – kitchen staff, drivers, security guards and more, with wonderful graphics and illustrations.

At the 2015 Hermes Creative Awards, Akshaya Patra’s annual report for 2014-15, titled Giving Every Dream A Chance, won Platinum – the highest honour at the awards. The theme for the report was the organisation’s eponymous initiative – Giving Every Dream A Chance, which sought to encourage the dreams of the Foundation’s beneficiaries through month-long mentorships. It included beautiful, surreal, monochrome snapshots of the dreams of three children – Shivu – the aspiring astronomer, Manjula – the debuting actress and Shekar – a chef in the making. These spoke of the starry dreams of these young kids and the joy their mentorships under renowned experts brought them, along with a chance to showcase their newly-learned skills and knowledge.  This report also won Gold at the League of American Communications Professionals LLC (LACP) 2014-15 awards.

The Foundation’s much celebrated annual report for 2013-14, titled The Fab Five Superheroes, presented in comic-book style, told the story of its origins and tales of five of its beneficiaries. These young guns were Badal, Vinayak, Ambika, Munna and Mamatha. This unusual, original and highly imaginative annual report won multiple awards, including an Award of Excellence at the 21st Annual Communicator Awards; Gold at the LACP 2013-14 and a Silver at International ARC Awards. Similarly, the 2012-13 annual report won Gold at the 44th Creativity International Print and Packaging Design Awards. This report was designed as a child’s scrapbook!

Over the years, the Foundation’s award-winning annual reports have become illustrious examples of originality. They are testament to the fact that presenting the yearly highlights and financials of an organisation can be fun, imaginative and push the boundaries, without losing any of their seriousness. The ‘much-awaited’ tag that has been attached to Akshaya Patra’s annual reports is fully deserved! You can read and download the latest annual report right here.

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Food and Education

The Passioneers – Celebrating the passion that drives Akshaya Patra

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The betterment of society is a collective responsibility. Individuals and organisations who have the means to make contributions to worthy social causes, entrust non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to make effective use of these contributions. After the end of the year, the NGO annual report details all the happenings and highlights of the year. It not only gives an insight into the workings of the NGO, but also its financials in intricate detail to ensure that every penny is accounted for and communicated to each stakeholder in the organisation. The report also outlines it short-term and long-term goals, lays out a roadmap for the future and lists its accomplishments and aspirations.

The Akshaya Patra Annual Report for 2015-16, released recently, is based on a unique theme. This year, the report, titled The Passioneers – Bound By Purpose. Driven By Passion, celebrates the dedication and toils of the people working behind-the-scenes – the ones who are the wheels and levers that keep the Foundation’s machinery, both material and metaphorical, working smoothly. These include the kitchen staff, security guards, drivers and various other arms that hold up the Foundation and carry it towards its milestones and missions. The report has a touchingly personal feel to it, as employees recount their personal journeys in the Foundation and how it has empowered them.

The year 2015-16 saw Akshaya Patra celebrating a big milestone – the serving of 2 billion cumulative meals since inception. Also, its Chairman, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, was conferred the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, by the Government of India. The road ahead for the Foundation is one with a clear vision and mission – feeding 5 million children by 2020. The annual report is a tool for all stakeholders to look to the future through Akshaya Patra’s eyes and see it as imagined by the Foundation. It allows them to be a part of this journey, understand the many ways in which it expects to grow and how they can effectively contribute to bring about this growth.

The Passioneers, thus, is not merely a report card of the Foundation. It is also a celebration of the emotional investment and passion that drives the Foundation. Do give it a read here!

 

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