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Food and Education

Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Kannada Rajyotsava: What the Day is All About

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For everyone living in Karnataka, the first day of November is a holiday. This day, known as Kannada Rajyotsava, symbolises the birth of Karnataka. In other words, it was the day Karnataka was formed back in 1956. So, how did this occasion come to be?

Here’s a quick look at this historic day and what it is all about.

On November 1, 1956, all the Kannada-speaking states of southern India were amalgamated to form a new state. This entity was originally called Mysore, but the name was too reminiscent of the princely state of yore, which was why the name was changed to ‘Karnataka’ on November 1, 1973.

Kannada Rajyotsava is celebrated with much gusto across the state. The red and yellow colours of the Karnataka flag fill the streets and the flag is hoisted at important locations, while the state anthem, Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate composed by the great poet Kuvempu, is sung. The boundaries of religion, age, caste, gender and income blur, as the state unites to celebrate its formation. The occasion is a tribute to the state of Karnataka and celebrates its glory – from the notable progress it has made, to its ongoing development.

On this day, the State Government confers the Rajyotsava Award upon eminent citizens, who have adorned Karnataka with the jewels of their noteworthy achievements; Akshaya Patra’s Chairman, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, received Rajyotsava Award in the year 2003.

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The Akshaya Patra Foundation is delighted to have started its journey in this very state in Bengaluru, in the year 2000, by serving meals to children in five schools in the city. Currently, we provide nutritious mid-day meals to children in five cities across Karnataka – Bengaluru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Mysuru and Ballari, via its six centralised kitchens.  In Karnataka alone, we feed 5,09,252 children in 2,841 Government and Government-aided schools every day.

On this wonderful occasion of Kannada Rajyotsava, the Foundation thanks the state where it was born and expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Karnataka for all the support it has extended. It also thanks its numerous donors and corporates, who have generously contributed to its cause of unlimited food for education. Please continue your support by contributing to Akshaya Patra.

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Food and Education

Nourishing Excellence through School Lunch

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On the occasion of World Food Day 2016, read about Akshaya Patra’s commitment to delivering high-quality meals to school children. The Foundation’s cause of food for education is the driving force behind its acclaimed Mid-Day Meal Programme.

Food is the most basic necessity that drives all life on earth and ensures that the circle of life continues without hindrance. Sadly, humanity, ever-expanding, is grappling with hunger and malnutrition, as a large number of people across the globe are deprived of their right to food security. The nations of the world recognise the need to tackle these issues, and hence, observe World Food Day 2016 on October 16, to commemorate the formation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.

For the past 16 years, Akshaya Patra has been devoted to the cause of ending classroom hunger, with a mission that no child should be deprived of education due to hunger. In 2016, the organisation reached an important milestone of having served 2 billion meals since its inception. Providing a meal a day for school children in 11 states across India is no mean feat. It involves strict adherence to quality – from the initial stages of procuring the ingredients to the cooking processes and the distribution of food. Here’s how the Foundation feeds school children – from crafting its meals to delivering them.

Procurement

The first step to a healthy meal is sourcing ingredients from credible sellers. Akshaya Patra trains its focus on avoiding middlemen and sourcing ingredients directly from manufacturers/farmers. The locations from which the ingredients are sourced are picked keeping in mind the logistics – sites closest to kitchens are chosen. The price for purchase of these materials is fixed by an internal joint committee and the Foundation continuously strives to reduce dependency on urban mandis.

Akshaya Patra follows Supplier Quality Management programme in selecting and approving vendors. These vendors, all of whom are licensed under Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and follow the authority’s specifications for raw materials, are pre-audited by the quality team prior to approval. The ingredients are sourced from various entities, pan India:

  • The pulses come from Gulbarga and Hubballi (Karnataka), Latur (Maharashtra), Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Jaipur (Rajasthan)
  • Vegetables are sourced from Cuttack (Odisha), Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) and local farmers in different locations
  • Spices are bought from Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), Byadgi (Karnataka), Salem (Tamil Nadu), Jodhpur and Kota (Rajasthan), and Sangli (Maharashtra)
  • Edible oil comes from Mangalore (Karnataka) and Kandla (Gujarat)
  • Dairy is bought from Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Anand (Gujarat), companies like Mother Dairy
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Engage With UsFood and Education

Food Security: A Step towards Peace

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Amid the cacophony of wars and violence in the world, the dove of peace finds it difficult to make a successful flight. However, peace remains something to strive relentlessly for, if we are to leave behind the world that is worth inheriting. The United Nations has dedicated September 21 to world peace, in a bid to promote peace education and prevent war.

The reasons for conflicts across the world and their impact on the livelihoods of people in conflict zones are many, but one issue that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is that of food insecurity. Food insecurity plays an important role, not only in driving conflict but also in sustaining it. According to a report titled Harvesting Peace: Food Security, Conflict and Cooperation, published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, food shortage and famine led to a never-ending loop of instability in countries such Somalia. High prices of food staples also triggered civil unrest and initiated food riots and food wars in numerous countries around the world. Food insecurity also provided an impetus for people to take part in conflicts and rebellions.

The onus lies on governments and the people of the world, to ensure food security for populations across the planet. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says that interventions related to food security can help build resilience to conflict. The FAO supported a government programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, giving kits to former combatants, which led to them forming a fruitful association to arrange food and integrating them into civilian lives. Such initiatives are necessary if the vicious cycle of food insecurity, violence and instability are to be broken. As American biologist and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug said, “If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the fields to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.”

This International Day of Peace, bring contentment to the hungry stomachs of children. Help children secure one nutritious meal per day, which will help keep them in school.

Make your contribution today.

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Celebrate for a CauseFood and Education

Every Milestone has a Story

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Children embody all that is good and noble about mankind. For a nation to make significant strides, it is imperative that its children are well-educated and well-nourished.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, through its mid-day meal programme for school children, has ensured that millions of children across India are provided with healthy, wholesome mid-day meals, so that children do not drop out of school due to hunger. Recently, the Foundation, which feeds over 1.6 million children across 10 states in India in 13,210 schools, celebrated having served 2 billion meals since its inception, in the presence of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Honourable President of India.

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Akshaya Patra’s journey too had humble beginnings in the year 2000, when the organisation started serving mid-day meals to 1,500 children in five schools in Bengaluru. In the years since, the Foundation, in partnership with state and central governments and with the help of generous benefactors, established its presence across the country. It now provides nutritious mid-day meals, cooked in its centralised and decentralised kitchens under extremely hygienic conditions, to school children in 10 states in India – Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh.

Throughout the years, Akshaya Patra has shown much innovation and has been the topic of numerous case studies. Its state-of-the-art kitchens, many of which are ISO-certified, have also been covered as part of lengthy documentaries by the international media. The year 2012 was a very special one for Akshaya Patra, as it served its 1 billionth meal and was ranked 23rd among the top 100 NGOs in the world, by The Global Journal. In just four years since, the Foundation has reached yet another significant milestone of serving 2 billion meals. The organisation has its goal of feeding 5 million children by 2020 firmly in sight, as it pursues to expand its presence across the country. To view images of President of India commemorating 2 billion meals, click here.

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Food and Education

Treats from 10 States

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India is a melting pot of different cultures that blend together beautifully, whilst still maintaining their unique flavour. Since the country is divided into states and union territories, each state and region has a distinct culture to call its own. This diversity extends to their cuisines and food traditions, which are strikingly different, yet bound together with the fine thread of Indian-ness – that collective of traits that give us the same identity, despite our diversity. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is present across 10 states in India, and since we, at the Foundation, are fond of vegetarian fare, we bring you a taste of scrumptious fare that comprises the cuisines of these 10 states.

Karnataka
The cuisine of Karnataka can be broadly divided into North Karnataka and South Karnataka. Like most of South India, idlis, dosas, uttappams, sambars and a wide array of chutneys are consumed here. In North Karnataka, jolada rotti (jowar roti) is a staple food item, while in South Karnataka, ragi rotti (made from ragi dough), akki rotti (made from rice flour and comprising onions and chillies) along with ragi mudde (steamed ragi dumplings) are quite popular. Chutneys typically include coconut, but North Karnataka also loves its Shenga (peanut) chutney. Besides these, rice dishes like Bisi Bele Bath and Puliyogare are favourites here, along with Kosambari (vegetable salad). Karnataka also has unique coastal cuisines. Delightfully, as is custom in most of South India, the delicious preparations concocted by people of the state are served on banana leaves.

Gujarat
The cuisine of Gujarat is as sweet as its people. This region is predominantly vegetarian, and vegetable dishes, called shaak in Gujarati, may be dry or prepared as curries and typically include some jaggery or sugar. Gujaratis have a love for all kinds of vegetables, including ladyfinger (bhinda), bitter gourd (karela), bottle gourd (doodhi), fenugreek (methi) and others. Undhiyu (a mixed vegetable dish cooked painstakingly in earthen pots) and the Gujarati kadhi (which makes use of buttermilk and gram flour) are quite popular in the state as well as among those outside it who love Gujarati food. Snacks from Gujarat, like the Kutchi dabeli, dhokla, khakra are extremely popular in neighbouring Maharashtra as well.

Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh, due to its history, has numerous influences – from Central Asia, other regions of North India like Punjab and Kashmir, as well as the Middle East. The chaat, loved across India, calls Uttar Pradesh its home, having originated there. Rotis, puris and parathas are commonly eaten breads in the region. The richness of the cuisine is evident by the generous use of spices and elaborate cooking techniques. Paneer is a hit favourite among the people of Uttar Pradesh, with Navratan Korma, a Mughal delicacy, having come from the region. Besides this, the samosa too was born here, before it went on to conquer all of India. The region is also known for its delicious vegetarian kebabs.

Odisha
The fragrance of cuisine from Odisha wafts up potently to engulf the senses. Despite going easy on the spices and the oil, food from this region is extremely aromatic and flavourful. Rice is the staple food item in the state and interestingly, fruits like jackfruit, plantain and papaya are commonly used in it. The most famous Odia dish is the Dalma, which includes vegetables, raw papaya and Pigeon Pea (toor dal). Mustard oil is commonly used in the cuisine of the region, along with Panch Phoron masala. Vegetables popular in this state are potatoes, brinjal, yam, drumstick, along with banana flowers and stem. The khechidi (Odia-style khichdi), too is an important component of an Odia meal.

Rajasthan
The cuisine of Rajasthan is as lavish as its many famous palaces – rich and loaded with ghee. The first names that come to mind when one mentions Rajasthani food, are Daal Baati Churma and Gatte Ki Subzi. Daal Baati Churma comprises flat, thick, round baked breads (baati), served with dal, along with crushed baati sweetened with jaggery or sugar (churma). Gatte Ki Subzi comes from the kitchens of the Rajputs and includes a number of gatte (balls made from gram flour) in spicy gravy. The state also enjoys a number of scrumptious desserts – Ghevar, a popular dessert in North India, has its roots in this very region.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
The fiery flavours of the cuisine in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (both were formerly part of a single state up to 2014) make for an unforgettable experience. This cuisine has many variants depending on region – Rayalaseema, Uttarandhra, Telangana and coastal Andhra. One aspect that binds cuisines of these two states is the love for sweet-sour-spicy flavours, as tamarind and red chillies are used generously. A variety of dosas, upmas, pohas and bondas are had for breakfast here. The staple diets, however, vary according to the influences of the states bordering them. Rayalaseema has a love for ragi much like Karnataka, which borders it, while rice is the staple food here, along with the rest of Andhra Pradesh. Telangana cuisine has influences from neighbouring Maharashtra, with rotte (roti) taking precedence over rice. In Andhra Pradesh, the curries are called koora and are popular among the people here, along with gravies. In Telangana, the Pulusu, a stew that is quite similar to curries, particularly the Pachi Pulusu, is well-liked. In sweetmeats, the Senaga Pappu Payasam, made with chana dal, coconut and jaggery, is a favourite, and is a fixture during auspicious occasions such as festivals.

Assam
Famous all over the world for its teas, Assam also has a lot of aromatic and flavourful delicacies, full of different spices, to offer. Much like Odisha, Assam too has rice as the staple food, along with a love for mustard oil. Assamese food is a vegetarian’s delight, as the climate allows for vegetation to thrive. Therefore, green leafy vegetables and herbs, known as xaak are widely used in the cuisine. The Khar is a particularly unique preparation, which includes water that is filtered through the ashes of banana skins, obtained by drying and burning them. Raw papaya is generally used while making Khar. This is the dish that the Assamese usually start their meal with.

Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu, the land of delicious filter coffee, also offers an array of delicacies that predominantly feature rice, lentils and generously use curry leaves, along with whole spices. It is common to find whole pepper, cloves, cinnamon and other spices in Tamil cuisine. Coconut too is a frequently used ingredient. Dosai (dosas), different kinds of chutneys, utthapams, idlis, medhu vadai (medu vada) make up the popular breakfast options. The podi idli (idli coated with spicy podi chutney) is simply delicious. In the main course, Sambar Sadam, Puli Kulambu, Rasam and other gravies, are had with rice. When it comes to sweetmeats, Payasam and Sweet Pongal are the undisputed kings!

Chhattisgarh
Famous over the world as the rice bowl of India, Chhatisgarh unsurprisingly has rice as the staple diet, along with jowar, maize and wheat. Pulses such as toor dal and urad dal are commonly used in cuisine of this state, and much like Assam, green leafy vegetables are quite popular here as well. The chila, a pancake made using rice flour and dal, is quite the coveted breakfast dish in households here. For those with a sweet tooth, a sweetmeat called Bafauri, made with chana dal, is the star of the meal.

Evidently, the states in which Akshaya Patra serves its mid-day meals have some wonderful cuisines. You can help feed children healthy, nutritious mid-day meals too, to keep them in school with your contribution. Donate now!

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Food and Education

Things You Must Know About Akshaya Patra

Things about Akshaya Patra

India is on the roadway to success and to make this journey smooth and inclusive, it is essential that the children of this nation do not miss out on education due to hunger. The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) helps this cause by providing wholesome, nutritious mid-day meals to school children across India. Read on to find out how this illustrious, award-winning organisation does it!

Origins and areas of work

  • The seed of TAPF philosophy was planted on a hot summer day in Mayapur, West Bengal when A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada saw children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food.
  • Srila Prabhupada took a solemn vow that no one within 10 miles of his centre would go hungry. Inspired by this, Akshaya Patra was born in June 2000 in Bangalore, Karnataka.
  • The organisation provides mid-day meals to 1.58 million children in 11,360 Government schools across India.
  • Its philosophy is to provide wholesome, nutritious food to schoolchildren and help keep them in school since many children in India discontinue school due to financial difficulties and malnutrition among them too is a common concern.
  • The organisation works on a Public-Private Partnership model, with state and central governments, with centralised and decentralised kitchens along with a small kitchen in Chennai that feeds children of a private school.
  • Other feeding initiatives of Akshaya Patra include anganwadi feeding, feeding expecting and lactating mothers, feeding in special schools, subsidised lunch for the economically backward, feeding runaway children, the homeless and residents at old-age homes, and disaster relief.
  • Akshaya Patra undertakes social initiatives like after-class tuitions, life skills programme, community health camps, scholarship programmes and health check-up camps.

Expansion

  • Back when it was founded in 2000, the Foundation served 1,500 children in five schools in Bangalore.
  • By 2004, Akshaya Patra was present in three Indian states – Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It now has a presence in 10 states, with 26 kitchens at 25 locations.
  • The kitchens in Karnataka are present at HK Hill and Vasanthapura in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Mangaluru, Mysuru and Ballari.
  • Akshaya Patra’s Rajasthan kitchens are presently located at Jaipur, Baran, Nathdwara and Jodhpur.
  • The Uttar Pradesh kitchens are operational at Vrindavan and Lucknow.
  • In 2006, the Foundation established itself in Odisha. It now feeds children in Puri, Nayagarh, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar.
  • In 2007, it started feeding children in Gujarat. Its operational presence in the state is at Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.
  • In 2008, Akshaya Patra inaugurated kitchens in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It currently has kitchens at Visakhapatnam, Mangalagiri and Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, and at Hyderabad in Telangana.
  • In 2009, the Bhilai kitchen in Chhattisgarh was launched.
  • In 2010, Assam had an Akshaya Patra kitchen of its own at Guwahati.
  • In 2011, Akshaya Patra set up a small kitchen at Chennai in Tamil Nadu to feed the children of a single private school.

Kitchens and its processes

  • The centralised kitchen template is adopted at urban and semi-urban locations.
  • Centralised kitchens have the capacity to produce up to a whopping one million meals. They are mechanised cooking units, where the cooking process requires minimal human intervention.
  • Areas that are difficult to access by road aren’t conducive to the construction of centralised kitchens and hence use the decentralised kitchen format.
  • The decentralised units are operated by Women Self Help Groups (SHGs), supervised by the Foundation’s kitchen process and operations module.
  • The decentralised units can cook meals for one to two schools in the area.
  • Hygiene is of paramount importance at the Akshaya Patra kitchens at every stage. Only quality suppliers are associated with for the programme, using Supplier Quality Management Systems (SQMS).
  • The First In First Out method ensures that the organisation makes effective use of perishable items.
  • Akshaya Patra is very particular about its safety protocol, so the staff makes sure to wear face masks, gloves, hair caps, gum boots and other protective gear.
  • Charts placed around the kitchen also encourage people to take showers daily and wash hands frequently, among others.
  • Improvement measures like Kaizen, Six Sigma and Continual Improvement projects are implemented after receiving feedback from schools about the quality of food.

Case Studies

  • The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been the subject of numerous studies for its exemplary work.
  • The most notable is the Harvard Business School case study featuring the organisation in 2007.
  • The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) Corporate Social Responsibility project for 2012-2013, conducted by National Corporate Social Responsibility Hub, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, was an impact assessment study report featuring Akshaya Patra.
  • Nielsen conducted an impact assessment study in 2010 to gauge the effect of TAPF mid-day meal programme in enhancing school enrolment, attendance, classroom performance and nutritional status of the students.
  • In 2012, Manipal University released a report on measuring the impact of the mid-day meal on child growth.

Awards and Recognitions

  • Akshaya Patra has been recognised by numerous national and international organisations and prominent world leaders for its impressive work.
  • The Foundation received the Nikkei Asia Prize 2016 for noteworthy achievements in the Economic and Business Innovation category.
  • TAPF was felicitated by CNN-News18 and Infosys, as part of its Innovating For A Better Tomorrow show, for positively impacting over a million Indian lives.
  • The World Economic Forum invited Akshaya Patra at The Project Hunger in Africa to share its experiences.
  • Barack Obama, President of The United States of America, sent a letter of appreciation to The Akshaya Patra Foundation, thanking it for its efforts.
  • Akshaya Patra was chosen as a recipient organisation for The Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellows Programme. This programme pairs upcoming leaders with effective organisations that address the primary causes of hunger across the world.
  • In 2009, Akshaya Patra entered the Limca Book of Records for running the largest mid-day meal programme in the world.
  • Akshaya Patra was also included in the India Book of Records for operating the largest school meal programme.
  • Giving Every Dream A Chance, a video by Akshaya Patra, received the Platinum award at the AVA Digital Awards 2016 in the Online Video category.
  • At the League of American Communications Professionals LLC (LACP) 2014/15 Vision Awards, Akshaya Patra was awarded Gold in the Annual Reports Competition in the Non-Profits category.
  • The ABP News Positive Award 2015 was awarded to Akshaya Patra for being a symbol of positive change in society.
  • The Foundation won the Best NGO award at Mother Teresa Awards 2014.
  • At the ARC Awards 2015, the biggest international competition honouring outstanding achievements in annual reports, Akshaya Patra received the Silver for its Annual Report 2013-2014, titled The Fab Five Superheroes, under the Foundation category of Non-Traditional Annual Reports.
  • TAPF also received the Grand Award Winner position for the Best of International segment at the ARC Awards 2015.
  • TAPF’s Annual Report 2013-2014 received the Platinum award at the 2015 Hermes Creative Awards.
  • Akshaya Patra scored a double victory at the Summit Creative Awards 2015, where its film – The Possibilities – received Gold, and its Annual Report 2013-2015 received Silver.
  • Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) awarded the 2014 Asian MAKE (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise) award to the Foundation.
  • At the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) Collateral Awards, 2016, Akshaya Patra won big, with four awards – a Gold, a Silver and two Bronzes in different categories.
  • PRCI also conferred the Chanakya award upon Akshaya Patra for NGO of the year 2015.
  • The Quality Mark Award For Achievement and Excellence 2015 in the NGO category was awarded to Akshaya Patra.
  • At the 21st Annual Communicator Awards, TAPF received the Award For Excellence in the Print not-for-profit category for its Annual Report 2013-2014 and for its film The Possibilities in the Video not-for-profit category.
  • The Foundation is a five-time winner of the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) Awards.
  • Akshaya Patra’s Annual Report 2012-2013 won the Gold at 44th Creativity International Awards.

Prominent people who have visited the kitchens

  • The Akshay Patra kitchens have been visited by illustrious people from India and abroad. These include former Presidents of nations, spiritual leaders and luminaries from the corporate, entertainment, technology and other fields.
  • Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bangladeshi social entrepreneur Mohammed Yunus, former United States President Bill Clinton, and His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet have all graced Akshaya Patra’s kitchens.

Strategic partnerships

  • Akshaya Patra has forged a successful strategic partnership with the prominent Indian philanthropic organisation Jamsetji Tata Trust.
  • The Foundation has also entered collaborations with State governments in India and with companies like Kellogg’s, Microsoft, Monsanto, GE Healthcare, Toms, Huawei and a lot of other prominent organisations.

Giving Every Dream a Chance

  • In 2015, Akshaya Patra made the dreams of three schoolchildren come true by arranging a month-long mentorship programme for them.
  • Shivu, a budding astronomer, was mentored by Preethi Krishnamurthy, Senior Research Fellow doing her PhD in Astrophysics, who revealed secrets of the stars to him.
  • Shekar, an aspiring chef, was trained by Chef Ramasamy Selvaraju of Vivanta By Taj to whip up delicacies.
  • Manjula, under the guidance of Zulfia Shaikh, founder / director – Bengaluru School of Speech and Drama, learnt to bring forth her inner actress.

And that’s a wrap!

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Food and EducationSchool Note

Diary of a School Girl

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Dear Diary,

Today’s Science class was very interesting. Our teacher taught us about Human Body. Until today, I did not know there were so many bones in our body. 206? That’s a lot. I’m only 12 years but it feels like I’m learning so much already. My school is my only distraction from all the problems at home.

Dear Diary, let me tell you about my life. We are five people in the house. Dad works as a coolie in the railway station and my mother is a housewife. I have an elder brother at home who is now in high school and I have a baby sister who is still in Anganwadi. It’s been two months since I moved to 7th Standard and I enjoy going to school. Exams make me nervous at times. I wake up at 6 am every day to help my mother with kitchen work. We do not have any water supply in our house and so I fetch water from a public tap. Our family needs at least six to seven buckets of water every day—for the kitchen, bath and to drink. In all this rush, I sometimes forget to eat breakfast. In school, our headmaster says ‘Breakfast is the most important meal’ but I feel I do not get the time to eat.

I leave home at 8 am with my best friend Uma. She stays close to my house and I’m happy we are classmates. We talk a lot in class and we laugh a lot. It takes 30 minutes for us to walk to school. We don’t realise the passing time because we talk so much. Once we reach school, we work on pending homework or we play a game. At 9 am, the entire school gathers for Morning Prayer. We sing the National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ every day. We also drink a glass of milk before classes begin.

Our classrooms are not big but we have everything we need. There are eight benches in my classroom and the walls are covered with informative charts. Some of the charts are made by us. We have six different classes every day. My favourite is Kannada—the teacher makes it so much fun. In our Kannada textbook, we have a lesson about farming. To make it more interesting, our teacher took us to the ground and made all of us plant a sapling. We water them every day and look after them like the plants are a part of our family. When we do not have any class, we usually sit quietly and read our textbooks. If anyone talks, our class leader writes the names on the blackboard. I always get caught for talking or laughing but I also focus on studies.

We get free lunch at school. At 11.45 am, Akshaya Patra vehicle delivers the food to our school. At 12 noon, lunch is served to everybody. We all eat together and wash our own plates. We usually get Rice and Sambar for lunch but sometimes, we get Bisi Bele Baath or Puliyogare. On most days, the lunch in school is the only meal I get to eat for the day. In fact, my parents sent me to school only because we get free lunch and the burden on the family is less. I’m happy too because the food we get is hot and contains vegetables. Most of us don’t like vegetables but our teachers make sure we all eat them because it makes us healthy.

Once a month, our teachers check our height to record the progress. I’m still 4 feet. I hope I grow taller this year. Before the last bell, we spend time drawing something or we play a game. One of my classmates draws cartoons and that’s very interesting. I like making rangoli designs. My school ends at 3.30 pm every day. We sing Vande Mataram before we leave the classroom.

Once the school is over, I walk back home with my friend. Like every day, I help my mother with fetching water and making dinner. At 5 pm, I step out to play with my neighbours. We play so many games in the evening. Sometimes, my mother lets me watch television. I like watching Chhota Bheem on Pogo. From 7 to 8 pm, I do my homework. If I finish my homework early, I get to watch more TV. After dinner is made, I help my baby sister eat her dinner and I put her to sleep. I try to sleep on time so that I’m fresh the next day. I’ve also been learning that sleep is very important for our bodies to function on a daily basis. I hope I get to become a Science teacher when I grow up.

This is my first journal entry and I hope I write more.  My school is now my companion and education is my hero. Thanks to the Government and to Akshaya Patra, I’m able to study without any disturbance.

Yours truly,
Lakshmi
(Inspired by true stories)

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Food and Education

A-Z of Akshaya Patra

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We have all learnt the English alphabet by associating each letter with something we were familiar with as a child. Let’s reverse the process. To help you get familiar with Akshaya Patra’s work, we have summarised it all in 26 words.


Akshaya Patra A to Z


A – ATTENDANCE

Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme has been effective in bringing children to school. Many schools have witnessed an increase in attendance since children are assured of one wholesome meal a day. For teachers, it’s always a delight to hear children answer their attendance in schools.


B – BLUE BUS

After the food is prepared, Akshaya Patra’s Blue buses deliver the fresh meals to more than 11,000 schools in India. With over 1200 vehicles that are custom designed to carry hot meals safely, hot and heallthy meals are served to children.


C – CHILDREN

The entire programme of providing mid-day meals revolves around children. More than 1.5 million children are being benefitted by Akshaya Patra’s meals every day.


D – DONATIONS

Donations is undoubtedly the backbone for our work. The immense financial support from the government, corporates, individuals and well-wishers continues to help us reach millions of children every day. You can donate to NGO too!


E – EDUCATION

We truly believe that no child should be deprived of education due to hunger. By providing mid-day meals every day, Akshaya Patra ultimately encourages every child to attend school.


F – FUNDRAISING

With Akshaya Patra, you can create your own fundraising campaign on our website and help us receive support. It’s an engaging activity and your efforts will directly help the beneficiaries.

 

G – GOVERNMENT AND AKSHAYA PATRA

The support from the Government of India and State Governments has made the mid-day meal porgramme an affective one. Timely procurement of grains, fund collection and tax exemptions have helped in easing the process of reaching millions of children.


H – HEALTH AND HYGIENE

Hygiene is our topmost priority when it comes to quality. Each staff member in the kitchen follows a hygiene chart and vessels are sanitised before and after usage, among other things on the checklist. This directly impacts every child’s health.


I – INNOVATION

We are constantly working towards using technological innovations that enhance our productivity and help maintain quality standards.


J – JOBS

Each one of Akshaya Patra’s department is dedicated to making a difference. We have more than 6000 employees pan India who dedicate their work hours every single day towards the cause and help each other grow.


K – KITCHENS

All of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens are well crafted with beautifully planned schedules to help us operate in the best way possible. Today, 12 of our centralised kitchens are ISO 22000:2005 certified.


L – LARGEST NGO

The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been conferred as the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme. We currently feed mid-day meals to more than 1.5 million government school children every day.


M – MID-DAY MEALS

To put an end to classroom hunger, we rely on mid-day meal programme. It has emerged as a major solution to achieve 100 per cent school enrolment. Hot and nutritious meals are delivered to all of Akshaya Patra’s beneficiary schools on all school days.


N – NEWS

We are thankful to the media for the immense support that we receive in highlighting our work. Our website has a News section too where we showcase important updates.


O – OPERATIONS

It is a massive operation to procure raw materials, prepare food, pack them in vessels, deliver them to schools and bring the vessels back to the kitchens. To achieve these, we follow a standardisation module in all kitchens and departments.

 

P – PROCUREMENT

From an inventory of vegetables required to make and deliver food to schools to procuring the raw materials every day, the procurement team gets the best of all at the best of prices.


Q – QUALITY

While we are reaching out to hundreds of children on a daily basis, quality continues to be the main ingredient. To maintain the quality, we follow FSSAI specifications and ensure the food is fresh when it reaches the school. A daily feedback mechanism from school plays an important part in this.


R – RECIPES

The recipes are monitored regularly to meet the needs of children in terms of calories, protein and nutrition. Nutritious food is as important as good taste. Akshaya Patra’s ingredients achieve the right balance here.


S – SCHOOLS

More than 11,000 schools are covered under Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme. While the teachers nourish children with knowledge, we believe in nourishing their minds through healthy food.


T – TRANSPARENCY AND TRUST

We believe that transparency is the key to trust. At the end of each financial year, we release an Annual Report, complete with financial audits. Did we tell you our award winning annual reports are a favourite among our stakeholders?


U – UNLIMITED FOOD

As the name suggests, children have access to unlimited food. The thought behind mid-day programme is to provide unlimited food for education—to ensure children’s education is not interrupted due to hunger.


V – VISION

Our organisation works towards its vision ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’ It is also our mission to reach 5 million children by 2020.


W – WHOLESOME MEAL

Every meal served is packed with nutritious ingredients as per Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). We ensure that the child’s daily intake of food has sufficient nutrient requirements to maintain good health.


X – FACTOR

We live with an X factor. Akshaya Patra started serving 1500 children in Bengaluru and today, the reach is more than 1.5 million. Every day we look out for opportunities to reach more children. We have recently embarked on a journey named ‘Giving Every Dream a Chance’—an initiative to help children realise their dreams and passion.


Y – YOU

You matter to us! When thoughtful and compassionate people like you join forces with us, we are empowered to bring a change.


Z – ZEALOUS PROGRAMME

It is our attempt to feed the millions of children in India who have the zeal to learn and achieve, but not the means. Akshaya Patra simply acts as the means to ensure children receive adequate support to further their education.

With that, it’s a wrap on the A-Z of Akshaya Patra! Stay tuned for more interesting reads!

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Food and Education

Ensuring Nutritious Meals, Everyday!

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At Akshaya Patra, we are passionate about the food that we serve our children but when it comes to the nutritional content of the food, we are meticulous! We are aware that children have their unique nutrient needs and meeting those needs is vital for a child to grow strong and healthy!

Children sit in classes earning to hear the bell ring and then- woo-hoo! It’s break time! These lunch-breaks serve as long-awaited tonic from dreary lessons of Math and Science welcoming excitement in school corridors and playgrounds! Requests for games are rampant and there are little fingers dabbling in lunch ingredients all over the place. Not only does this decrease the time children get to eat their lunch but also results in hurried and selective eating that is detrimental to children’s health and learning!

Hence in such a situation when time is stipulated and one needs to ensure children eat the right combination of nutrients, vitamins, fat, protein, carbohydrates and fibre it indeed becomes a daunting task, especially when it is an everyday ritual.

We who strictly believe in clean and healthy eating have therefore come up with a no-fuss lunch menu that not only suits the various palates that we serve but is also the right blend of

  • vegetables
  •  proteins
  • dairy
  • grains
  • oils
  • nutrients

The mid-day meals are only prepared with the best quality raw produce that is meticulously scrutinised in terms of supplier selection, qualification and rating before starting the cooking process. Every vegetable is washed with potable water and then placed in cold storage for a few hours to retain their freshness while other preparations are made for the day’s cooking. We just don’t stop at this; we ensure that the produce is only accepted after a complete quality inspection to make sure that it meets with Akshaya Patra’s Raw Material Specifications, adopted from the Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA).

We do all of this just to ensure that children get all the support they need to eat joyful meals, attend school regularly and pursue their dreams.

Akshaya Patra being one of the world’s largest NGO run school lunch programmes takes the opportunity of serving children with meals that are a perfect blend of nutrition and taste. Don’t believe us…? Hear it from them!

bharathi-mahapatraBharathi Mahapatra, Headmistress, Odisha“I am grateful that the Mid-Day Meal Programme by Akshaya Patra came as an incentive to education which actually offers two of the fundamental rights of food and education to the children. Absenteeism is less and children are very interested to come to school. The children get to live their childhood as they are supposed to.”

 

Syed-BasheerSyed Basheer, Teacher, Hyderabad -“Food is an important factor for many students in this school. A child needs food to study and we ensure that every child in the school is fed well. Akshaya Patra is doing great work by feeding these children in our school. For some it’s a blessing because they don’t eat food at home every day. Not only has the students’ health improved, but their academics record also reinstate that a good and nutritious meal plays a crucial role in brain development.”

NousheenNousheen, Student, Telangana – “My elder sister Afreen has a hand deformity. Sometimes, students would make fun of Afreen when she would eat the mid-day meal at school. Because of this she refused to eat with her friends fearing that they would ridicule her for her disability. Over time, I continuously encouraged her to eat the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal because of the healthy nutrients in their food. This will also help Afreen improve her disability.”

 

These are just a few validations of the everyday work that we do in reaching mouthfuls of freshly prepared mid-day meals to our beneficiaries. We believe in nutrition for children and will only encourage them to take just the right bite!

 

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Food and Education

When Giving Gloves Appear!

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“Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”- J. Robert Moskin

Times are stormy. The world has offered us enough to complain and fret over. But the question we need to ask ourselves is — how often do we remember to give thanks for what we are in possession of?

Away from the common din of complaints, frustrations, anger and agony there is a day exclusively dedicated to showing your gratitude to all your near and dear ones. This day, universally known as Thanksgiving Day, is marked by excitement and anticipation. It is a day of gaiety and skylarking with your friends and family. People feast and give thanks for their good fortune.

But the question is, is it only enough to thank and be merry for the gift called life! Is our task only limited to enjoying a laugh and lavish meals with our family and folks? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could add a little philanthropic twist to this Thanksgiving?

What better way to show gratitude for your good fortune than to associate with The Akshaya Patra Foundation an NGO for children to help eliminate child hunger. Bask in the happiness of making a child smile this Thanksgiving by a simple donation of Rs. 750/-, enough to feed him/her for an entire academic year. Remember, your contribution will make a lasting impact this Thanksgiving day for kids in need!

We urge you to consider contributing to this worthy cause and Donate food for Thanksgiving on this occasion. A donation from you will give a child a reason to give thanks this holiday.

Above all, on this occasion, we would like to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. We are grateful for your continued support and efforts to help us succeed. This Thanksgiving let’s come together to put on our giving gloves and bring pockets full of sunshine for our little friends out there.

 

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