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Food and Education

Food and Education

US Ambassador visits our Vasanthapura kitchen

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We were thrilled to host His Excellency, Mr. Richard Rahul Verma, the US Ambassador to India, at Akshaya Patra’s Vasanthapura kitchen on 4th November 2015.  He was accompanied by Ms. Andie DeArment, Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Consulate General in Chennai.  The Ambassador was received by Shridhar Venkat, CEO TAPF; Sundeep Talwar, CMO TAPF and Vinay N.Kumar, Director Operation TAPF.

 The entourage arrived at the kitchen at 7.30am sharp. After a warm welcome, the Ambassador was escorted to the terrace of the kitchen facility. The Ambassador keenly observed the silos, solar panels, RO (Reverse Osmosis) plant and other fixtures on the terrace. This is where the entire cooking operation starts, as the entire kitchen follows a gravity-flow model that operates downward, floor by floor, to increase efficiency in the processes.

Next, he was escorted to the floor below, the third floor of the facility. This is the area where pre-processing is done and raw material is readied to be integrated into the cooking process. The Ambassador was very receptive to the brief that was being given to him by Shridhar Venkat, while Andie clicked away to her heart’s content! The Ambassador showed keen interest in the processes involved in this precooking area. He was impressed by the hygiene and cleanliness maintained on this floor, the cold storage used to keep the vegetables fresh till cooking, and was awed by the use of latest technology and modern practices at every stage in Akshaya Patra’s mega-kitchen! He was especially impressed by the absence of any dependence on LPG in the kitchen!

IMG3The next stop was the second-first floor combined cooking area. This is the heart of this mega-facility. The Ambassador looked mesmerized by sight of huge cauldrons bubbling away. He was so taken in by the captivating sights and smells that he volunteered to participate in the actual cooking! Out came the aprons and cooking gloves for his convenience.  All decked up, he took into hand a massive ladle and started stirring pulao! Next, he took up another ladle and stirred the kesari bhat that was being readied for the school children.  He did a pretty good job, we must say!  He looked around keenly and had many a questions to ask. Shridhar Venkat was close at hand to address each of his queries.

The entourage then landed at the ground floor where the packing of food and dispatch of packaged vessels takes place with a meticulous clock-work precision.  What struck the ambassador was the cleanliness and the faultless packing and dispatch lines. For moments, he observed the food being filled into vessels and then being transported through conveyor belts to the dispatch section.  He then moved out to the dispatch section and was quite impressed by the efficient tagging and loading process. He closely observed the insides of the vehicle that carries these meals to schools.  He was then escorted to the boiler area where bio degradable waste is used to fire the massive boiler that in turn generates steam for the cooking process. The Ambassador was hugely appreciative of our efforts to make the best use of natural resources like solar, bio and green energies!

IMG5This winded up the tour of the facility and the Ambassador and his entourage was escorted up to the Board room. Here, over breakfast, the Ambassador, Ms. Andie, the CEO and the CMO of Akshaya Patra had a chat.

The Ambassador was very pleased and content to have made it to Akshaya Patra’s kitchen despite his very busy schedule in Bengaluru. Shridhar Venkat and everyone at Akshaya Patra too felt very honoured to have hosted His Excellency.

So it was on a very pleasant note that the Ambassador bid adieu, but he did so with a promise to talk about and endorse the good work that The Akshaya Patra Foundation is doing towards the elimination of child hunger in India.

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Food and Education

We turn 15 today!

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Back in 2000, our inspiration, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, caught sight of a group of children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. This sight greatly agonised him and with this germinated a prolific idea, known today as The Akshaya Patra Foundation.

From this experience was born our vision that “no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”. This pledge translated into action, when in June 2000, Akshaya Patra served its first mid-day-meals to 1,500 children in five Government schools in Bengaluru.

Since then, 15 years have passed and today we are already serving mid-day meals to nearly 15 lakh school children from 10,845 schools across 10 states in India every single day. Our mission is to reach out to 5 million children by 2020 and we are only going to march ahead to make this happen!

The Foundation has witnessed exponential growth in its every sphere in the last 15 years. Strategic partnerships, constant innovation, planned expansions, enhancement and continuous support from our well-wishers have helped us achieve what we are today!

But the challenges looming are enormous and time is short. The struggle that our children face daily to procure food is overwhelming and reiterates how important it is to end classroom hunger once and for all.

As we celebrate our 15 year anniversary on 11 November, 2015 we would like to extend a warm thank you to all our supporters, donors, volunteers, team members and to every single person who has ever been a part of this journey.

Thank you for believing in us, and thank you for helping us make a difference.

We look forward to celebrating many more years of success with you all.

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Food and Education

Cherish dreams this International Day of the Girl Child

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For years families in India have pinned their hopes and dreams on their sons. Carefully raising them, providing every opportunity they can afford and most of all treasuring them. Today the scenario is changing, becoming more balanced. Girls all over the country are being nurtured, educated…acknowledged. And with this change, dreams have been born.

This International Day of the Girl Child, take a moment to look at the outstanding dreams and aspirations of our female beneficiaries. All they needed to come this far was a daily meal, a daily class and a big opportunity. Imagine what a little help from you can do.

 

 

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Food and Education

Educate and inspire this International Literacy Day

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Children’s dreams know no bounds. Some aspire to be astronauts or pilots, others envision becoming doctors or movie stars. Regardless of race, caste or economic background, all children in their heart of hearts dream of achieving something great. Sadly not enough children in developing countries receive the opportunity to actually make their dreams come true.

At The Akshaya Patra Foundation we work tirelessly to ensure that children are given the support they need to be able to attend school and achieve their goals. By addressing their need for food, Akshaya Patra also helps address their need for education. Through this programme we at the organisation have seen children blossom before our eyes, and revelled in the enthusiasm of young athletes, police officers, doctors, teachers, actors and much more.

This International Literacy Day we appeal to you to join with us so that you can be a part of these magical journeys too. Support a child’s meals for a year or more, and keep a child in school. Remember every child you help educate is another dream coming true.

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Food and Education

Help free India from Classroom Hunger!

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In developing countries like India, one in six children is underweight while 66 million primary school age children attend class every day on an empty stomach. Our children are the future of our country, and it’s time we fight for their independence – their independence from hunger and illiteracy.

Food and education are two of the fundamental rights of every child in India. But prohibited access to these two rights has kept millions across the country locked in a cycle of hunger and poverty. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been working incessantly over the past fifteen years to change this narrative by providing free food for education to children in India.

Although we now feed over 1.4 million children a day, and are working to feed 5 million by 2020, there is a long road ahead of us. To truly rid India of child hunger, the combined efforts of the entire nation is required.

Join with us on this Independence Day to be a part of India’s freedom struggle against classroom hunger.

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Food and Education

Feeding social change with every meal

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“I want to give something back to society. So I have decided that when I become a teacher, I will help educate the poor,” says Yashoda from Bengaluru.

“I don’t want to see people hungry, so I have decided that when I grow up I will serve the needy,” says Runiguru from Puri.

“I want to become a teacher when I grow up and ensure all the children in my village are educated,” says Ashwini from Bhilai.

“I feel I am indebted to my country and I would like to serve my nation as an army officer,” says Darshan from Bengaluru.

These are the dreams of just a few of Akshaya Patra’s young beneficiaries in India.

These noble aspirations exemplify the important role the Mid-Day Meal Programme plays in effecting social change. By bringing underserved children to school with the promise of easing their hunger, the Mid-Day Meal Programme also introduces them to a platform where they can explore their competencies, aspirations and values.

Being products of an unequal society themselves the children understand the struggles facing millions of families across India and frequently express a desire to pay it forward by working for the benefit of society.

By nurturing the dreams of thousands of children like these we will be able to see a remarkable change in almost every facet of Indian society and economy, in just a generation or two.

And it all starts with every one of us helping to provide a daily, nutritious mid-day meal.

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Food and Education

Akshaya Patra remembers Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

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We are grieved by the loss of former Indian President and Bharat Ratna, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. A selfless visionary and mentor, Dr. Kalam has been a role model and a source of inspiration to millions across the country. We fondly remember his visit to The Akshaya Patra Foundation in June 2003 where he visited us in Bengaluru, helped serve the mid-day meal to beneficiaries, enjoyed a meal with the students and left an impression that will last a lifetime.

During his visit, Dr. Kalam expressed his happiness saying “This is really a very important mission and I congratulate Akshaya Patra for the excellent work they have done.” We were touched by his kind words of support. Known for his deep love and compassion for children, and steadfast desire to ignite their dreams, Dr. Kalam also highlighted how crucial the mid-day meal programme is in providing nutrition and education in India.

It was with his guidance that we launched our Vidya Akshaya Patra Programme, an initiative focused on promoting education in government schools across the country. Dr. Kalam was an inspirational leader, a dedicated teacher and a true hero. He helped transform the aspirations of our country, and he will be missed but never forgotten.

“Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was one of India’s greatest treasures. Though he is no longer with us, we are left with his legacy that will shine bright for years to come,” says Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of Akshaya Patra.

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Food and Education

Feeding 1.4mn daily, but consuming with care

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The one thing all 7 billion of us – regardless of all our differences – have in common is our home. We all share a little bit of space on this planet Earth, so it’s important that we work together to preserve it. That’s why the theme for World Environment Day 2015 as chosen by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.’

Each of our actions on an individual, organisational and community level, impact the environment in some way, and it is up to us to choose whether this will be positive or negative. At Akshaya Patra we have chosen to adopt environment friendly methods of running our mid-day meal programme.

One of our big initiatives in ensuring green practices is the implementation of a solar plant at our Vasanthapura kitchen in Bengaluru. This plant has the capacity to produce 70 units of power a day, and is used to run all the applications in the kitchen that work on single phase power like the computers, fans and other systems.

The plant runs through the use of photovoltaic (PV) cells which convert sunlight to direct current electricity through the course of the day. Using the power of these cells the plant has the ability to run till 4 am. With basic maintenance on a yearly basis, the plant has the capacity to provide environment friendly, reliable energy to the kitchen for decades. Through this plant, Akshaya Patra has reduced its dependence on non-renewable sources of energy to function.

Besides choosing to adopt solar power, there are so many other ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment. Some of the alternative methods we’ve adopted at Akshaya Patra are implementing effluent treatment plants, reducing our carbon emissions by optimising our meal delivery routes and installing BioUrja plants to utilise waste for energy.

Akshaya Patra is also adopting ISO 14001 standards of implementing its Environment Management System (EMS) in the Hubballi, Ballari, HK Hill and Vasanthapura kitchens in Karnataka. ISO is an international organisation for standardisation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. We aim to receive ISO certification for the EMS programmes in the four locations in the coming months.
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Food and Education

Mini nom nom’s fights obesity and hunger

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Entrepreneur Lisa Sohanpal’s startup Mini nom nom’s, a children’s food business in London is working to reduce childhood obesity in the UK, while also attempting to reduce hunger and child employment in India.

Mini nom nom’s sells healthy ready-to-eat meals with no added salt and preservatives for British children, and uses a portion of the profit from these sales to feed beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme at a school in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Seeing an absence of healthy ready-to-eat meals for children (a big problem for working parents), Sohanpal launched her business in 2014, and her products have already been very well received. The Mini nom nom’s meals haven’t just been widely accepted because of the product, they have also gained popularity because of the social values they stand for.

“I met the president of The Akshaya Patra Foundation at a networking event in London, and felt inspired by the charity’s mission to feed five million school children per day by 2020. The sponsorship of the school in India improves attendance, as children get their meals provided; usually a roti (Indian round bread), dal and vegetable curry. This meal means the children don’t have to go out and earn money to pay for their food instead of going to school. Keeping them in school for longer results in the pupils getting better jobs when they leave, which will hopefully mean they can use their education to rise out of poverty,” Sohanpal says.

Through Mini nom nom’s Sohanpal hopes to raise awareness among children in Britain of the hunger and poverty in many countries across the world, and show them how they can be instrumental in making a change.

Source: Forbes
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Food and Education

Supporting self-sustainability with the CherYsh Trust

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Cheryl Rebello, CEO of the CherYsh Trust has a dream. She wants to help people from rural areas achieve self-sustainability through the women in their region. To make this happen, Cheryl has partnered with several NGOs, colleges, local businesses and hotels. The CherYsh Trust joined forces with Akshaya Patra when working to foster indigenous development through the community kitchens at Haliyal.

Akshaya Patra along with other hotels in the area requires indigenous recipes, especially big quantities of sambar powder while cooking the mid-day meal. The ladies benefitting from Cheryl’s programme rose to the task, providing Akshaya Patra with 100 kilograms of sambar powder in a short span of 10 days. To make sure the powder matched Akshaya Patra’s high standards, it was put through stringent quality tests and scored high on nearly every parameter. According to Cheryl this was a proud moment for them all when she broke the good news to the ladies. “Now it was no longer subjective or charity. It was about quality,” she said.

The programme is now looking to scale up operations at the community kitchen. To raise funds for this, Shantha Pedru Dodmani from Tatwangi village in Haliyal taluk ran the TCS World 10k marathon in Bangalore recently. Explaining the impact the kitchen has had on the local community, Shantha described it as a “transformation”. The kitchen has helped create employment and foster development in the region, and also provided women with the confidence to be entrepreneurs.

Training sessions are provided to these women in collaboration with Hotel Gateway-Lakeside and Akshaya Patra. These sessions address topics like personal and cooking hygiene, efficient cooking methods and learning local recipes. According to Cheryl, these sessions have helped the ladies rise to the challenge and raise their expectations too.

Akshaya Patra is very proud to have the opportunity to partner with the CherYsh Trust to help support and guide local communities so they can develop into self-sustaining societies.

Source: Deccan Chronicle
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