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Food and Education

Food and Education

School Inspection in Dharwad

school-inspection-in-dharwad

Travelling on a bike in 380 to 400 celcius degree heat on rough, unpredictable roads to remote villages is sometimes a part of Kiran Karigoudra’s job. Working as he does inspecting schools in Dharwad city and surrounding rural areas, there is nothing he has not come across in his five years as an inspection supervisor.

“If a van is delayed due to unavoidable reasons, I have to phone up all the principals in the pending schools to let them know about the situation. Sometimes there might be trouble in a village and the van will get held up, we have to manage that situation as soon as possible,” he says. Many rural villages in the region are located in remote forest areas where the poor condition of roads poses a problem to vehicles and special care needs to be taken during rainy days. Roads will often be blocked by rock or debris, and on occasions, Kiran has to place requests with the concerned authorities for the improvement of roads.

Having grown up in Dharwad himself, Kiran knows and understands very well the area in which he works. “In this school here,” he says of a remote village ensconced in the forests that surround Dharwad near Kalkeri, “children only come to school if there is food. People do depend on Akshaya Patra. The teachers are very dedicated too. Two of them walk 7km one way just to come here and teach.” According to Kiran, at least half the children in most villages of the region attend classes because of school lunch. “A cooked meal has made so much difference for education” he says. “Earlier, when the Government used to give dry rations, children would only attend school for one or two days when they distributed rations, take the rice and dal and then leave. They wouldn’t come back until the same time next month. Nowadays they come everyday.”

When inspecting, Kiran has to make sure that food arrives at schools on time, is satisfactory to the children and is in sufficient quantities, a job which he thoroughly enjoys. “I feel a great deal of happiness working for Akshaya Patra, because my work is for children. Here, I get responsibility and I get freedom to do my work,” he says.

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Food and Education

Kitchen Activities of Bellary

bellary-kitchen

“When we went to buy a vehicle to make commuting for our staff easier and the owner of the vehicle realised we were from Akshaya Patra,” says Mr. Subramanyam, “he refused to take any money from us.” Such good will and kindness, he adds, stems from the fact that we serve nearly 1.3* lakh (130,000) children in Bellary district everyday without fail. Not only that, but we have also helped provide relief for thousands of flood victims in the area.

How is the logistics of distributing and preparing exactly the right amount of food for so many children managed? Mr. Subramanyam, who handles those logistics, among many others, expands on the process:

“All of the nearly 575 schools are mapped into approximately 21 routes. Each route has a specific name and number of schools. We have one food van for each route, and the van is accompanied by a route supervisor,” he says. These route supervisors gather information on the ground from each school, including what the projected attendance rate might be for the following day. From this raw data, charts are prepared in the evening to determine the amount of food that needs to be packed into each van for the following day. The distribution supervisor then collates the data from all routes and gives the information to the head of production who will then know exactly how much food to prepare for the following day.

A meeting is held for procuring vegetables every week, says Mr. Subramanyam and fresh produce is brought in once every two days from surrounding districts such as Belgaum. “There aren’t enough vegetables in Bellary alone to meet our requirements,” adds Mr. Subramanyam. The Bellary kitchen requires around 4.5 tonnes of vegetables each day.

Mr. Subramanyam, who previously worked in the Foundation’s Hubli kitchen before coming to Bellary, has been a part of Akshaya Patra’s family for nearly four years. So thorough is he in his approach, that he has analysed everything from the trends of school attendance rates to the patterns of food consumption for each month. But he attributes the success and smooth running of the program to the people that make up Akshaya Patra.

“It all happens through good work and co-ordination of everyone involved,” he says.

*As on April 2011

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