Food and Education

Food and Education

World Food Day 2014: A focus on family farming


According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation there are 805 million hungry people globally.

With statistics like these it’s clear that countries all over the world have concerns with food security. But for India it is a problem of enormous proportions. According to the World Bank the malnutrition rates of children in India exceed that of China by five times, and double that of Sub-Saharan Africa.

This is why occasions like World Food Day play a pivotal role in changing the course of things. World Food Day which falls on October 16 worldwide marks the day that the Food and Agriculture Organisation was founded by the United Nations in 1945. Celebrated in over 150 countries, World Food Day is aimed to help raise global awareness on the issues surrounding hunger and poverty.

For World Food Day 2014 the theme adopted is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”. With 2014 also being designated the ‘International Year of Family Farming’ by the UN General Assembly, the theme for World Food Day 2014 works to highlight the importance of family farming and how it can help dramatically solve the global problem of food security.

98 per cent of the farms worldwide are family farms. This ranges from orchards, fruit and vegetable farms, fisheries, livestock ranches and more that are managed and maintained by families. However, despite this many farmers suffer from hunger themselves, as a result of poor policy, bad storage facilities and inadequate raw material. Helping to improve the conditions they work under will help improve their yield, and raise standards of living globally.

Though the connection between family farming and classroom hunger may not pop right out, a strong relationship exists between the two nevertheless. Every day, many children all over the world struggle to help their parents till arid soil, and plant poor crop while braving the elements, at the cost of their education. By acknowledging the important role farmers play in sustaining the economy, providing food and nutrition and preserving the environment, their standards of living can be improved dramatically.

On this occasion of World Food Day 2014, the world has taken a united step to give this occupation the respect it deserves, and support its role in helping to end global poverty and hunger.

Will you be a part of the movement? Drop us a message and let us know.

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Food and Education

Akshaya Patra Kitchen, Hubli: Moving Beyond


The Akshaya Patra kitchen in Hubli has an impressive efficiency rate when it comes to preparing large amounts of meals. As mentioned in the earlier article ‘From traditional to contemporary,’ the Hubli Kitchen is rated as one of the most economical kitchens of Akshaya Patra in India. Like any other kitchens of Akshaya Patra, quality is of utmost importance to the Hubli kitchen. It’s a human inclination to recognise great taste and this kitchen has gone beyond making healthy and nutritious meals for children. The kitchen ensures a meal with a new taste every day. “Any attraction to the food must be its taste. Normally for children, feeding them is a big task. You can imagine how a mother feeds her child, but when children come to school, there is no one to feed them and tell them they have to eat,” explains operations manager, Yagneshwara Dasa. It is the food lab team that makes sure a meal with a different taste is served every day. They carefully formulate a menu keeping in mind that the nutrients in the food should be proportionate.

Ensuring quality at every stage, every day

The quality assurance team at the Hubli kitchen sees that all the quality standards are met. The quality team at the warehouse briefs the vendors on the quality standards. At every stage the ingredients are examined. At the warehouse, the operations team follows a process called first-in and first-out. For example, the potatoes procured by the kitchen are stacked in the warehouse. The first lot of potatoes has to be removed first because if it is kept for too long, it will start decaying. Simultaneously, more goods coming in and overloading will be a problem. “We make sure what came in first is moved out and used. We also have minimum stock levels. For any ingredient, there should be a sufficient stock in the warehouse at all times. The warehouse is stacked with all the materials which are needed for the preparation,” said the operations manager.

The rice to the kitchen is supplied by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The FCI follows a public distribution system of providing food grains. The dal (lentil, pea or various types of bean) and vegetables are acquired from vendors who follow the safety and health standards set by the kitchen. To avoid monotony, there are 25 recipes of sambar (lentil based curry), with a different dal being used every day. They indulge in sprouting these dals on a weekly basis which makes the food more nutritious. “Surprisingly, the children are very fond of the sprouts and we have received good feedback on this,” Yagneshwara Dasa added.

No insufficiency of food at schools

The team makes certain that there is no scarcity of food at schools. There are 38 different routes to the schools. They find out how many students are absent. Based on these numbers, they calculate the total figure. A cumulative format has an indent for every route. Citing an example, the operations manager said that one route will consist of 25-30 schools. They calculate the number of school children in that particular route. With the help of this format, the team is able to find out the number of students to feed every day. It ensures that no child is left out and some children are able to take food back home happily.

Pushing beyond to reach the isolated areas

The operations team at Hubli is now trying to reach out to more school children especially in remote areas. Several villages surrounding the twin cities of Hubli and Dharwad are sometimes completely cut off during the monsoon. Delivering food to such areas can pose a major challenge. The team is making conscious efforts to reach these areas to feed school children. A hard-hitting fact, mentioned by the operations manager, is that sometimes the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is the only meal a child has in a day. For this reason, Akshaya Patra is pushing boundaries to reach out to more children and to prevent hunger amongst children and the youth.

Transparency of its operations

To demonstrate transparency and emphasis on quality, the Hubli team organises inspection tours at the kitchen for the school children and teachers. “We want the students and teachers to come see our kitchen. We want to encourage children to eat more and not keep themselves hungry. We also want to show them the standards of hygiene we maintain. It boosts the confidence of the children when they see the food being prepared. And they should understand that we are doing this for them,” the operations manager concluded.

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Food and Education

How to Donate to Joy of Giving 2014


The Joy of Giving Week (currently called Daan Utsav), is a period of great generosity, happiness and harmony. It is a time when people all over the country cross barriers of geography, culture, age, occupations and more to unite in the common cause of working towards the betterment of society. This week, the biggest philanthropic event of India, is marked by generous contributions in many forms to numerous worthy causes. But sometimes it’s hard to know which organisation to support, and how to go about it.

If you would like to make a contribution this Joy of Giving, some of the ways to support The Akshaya Patra Foundation are:

Monetary contributions: You can donate money to Akshaya Patra through an online donation or offline through a cheque or demand draft. You can also use your GPRS enabled mobile phone to make a donation using ATOM or mCheck.

Donate a vehicle: Help pave the way for a brand new vehicle to carry the tasty, nutritious mid-day meal to thousands of hungry children in your area. Well designed with a honey-comb structure to make sure the vessels are kept stable, these vehicles are insulated to keep the food hot till they reach their destination. Find out more about how you can donate a vehicle to Akshaya Patra here.

Sponsor a school for a year: Akshaya Patra provides the mid-day meal to 10,661 Government and Government-aided schools across India on every school day. Your support will make it possible for students in more schools to meet their nutritional requirements by enjoying these meals. Find out how you can sponsor a school here.

Sponsor a child for a year: You can make sure one child has access to Akshaya Patra’s tasty, healthy meals for an entire year with a donation of just Rs. 750. By providing a child with this regular supply of nutritious food you give him/her an incentive to attend school regularly and gain the education required. You can make a yearly payment to support a child through an ECS donation.

Sponsor kitchen equipment: The largest kitchen run by Akshaya Patra can produce upto 200,000 meals in five hours. The centralised kitchens are highly mechanised and equipment-intensive, to cater to the large demand for the mid-day meals. A donation towards kitchen equipment could help Akshaya Patra sooner reach its mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020.

Be a part of the festival this year by bettering a child’s life. Make a donation and join in the Joy of Giving.

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Food and Education

Share in the joy of giving


Joy of Giving Week (currently called Daan Utsav), is celebrated in India between 2nd and 8th October every year.

As India’s largest philanthropic event the Joy of Giving Week is a crucial time when all Indians contribute in any way they like to the less privileged members of society, whether monetarily, or in terms of time and skills. The mission of the festival is to ‘promote giving as a culture’. Through the combined efforts of NGOs, corporates, schools, the media, local citizens and other agencies, the idea behind Joy of Giving has spread like wildfire all across the country.

The week is marked by a series of programmes or ‘gifting events’ which raises huge amounts of money towards causes. Last year Joy of Giving 2013 saw staggering involvement with over 2 million people participating in over 900 events, across 80 cities. The festival raised tens of crores of rupees in money and resources, and millions in hours donated.

While the idea of giving to the less fortunate is wonderful, the logistics behind it can be a little daunting sometimes. That is why donating or volunteering via an NGO supporting a worthy cause is an excellent way to plan your Joy of Giving activities.

Akshaya Patra works to provide food for education to underprivileged children all over India, so that they have the opportunity to gain education. There are several ways to get involved with The Akshaya Patra Foundation to celebrate this joyous festival. Making a donation, whether in cash or kind (to sponsor a meal distribution vehicle, food grains etc.) will make a huge difference to a child’s life.

You can also choose to volunteer with Akshaya Patra to spend time with the children at the schools and share your skills with them, help organise a fund raising campaign, spread awareness of the cause online and more options.

There are so many things that you can do to help eliminate classroom hunger in India, and the Joy of Giving Week is the perfect time for you to start.

If you have any other ideas on how you would like to get involved with The Akshaya Patra Foundation for Joy of Giving 2014, email in at

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Food and Education

A Moveable Feast across Gujarat Schools


Jagranjan Mishra, General Manager (Operations) at the Foundation’s Ahmedabad kitchen | Dinesh Shukla

The sun is barely up but Akshaya Patra’s kitchen at Ahmedabad is bustling with activity.

“With a capacity to produce 200,000 meals in five hours, the Ahmedabad kitchen is one of the largest cooking facilities in India,” says Jagranjan Mishra, General Manager of Operations at The Akshaya Patra Foundation. “It is certainly the largest kitchen dedicated to the Mid-day Meal Scheme, a programme by the Government of India that supplies free lunches on working days for children in schools to improve the nutritional health of school-going kids in India,” he explains.

Already tonnes of wheat flour are being loaded onto the roti-making machine to go through a sheeter and roller that controls the gauge of the dough. The dough is then cut by a die to make flat rounds which go via the conveyor to the baking oven before emerging as a roti (Indian flat bread). The machine can turn out 60,000 rotis in an hour!

Since Akshaya Patra is one of the major providers of these mid-day meals, much research and innovative thinking has gone into automating the kitchens, thereby ensuring high production and hygiene in the cooking process.

“Our recently built Ahmedabad kitchen supplies about 130,000 lunches to around 526 schools in seven talukas of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar districts. The daily challenge is to ensure the freshly cooked meals can reach the schools within the minimum cooking-to-consumption time. For this, some technologies used in manufacturing industries have been adapted to the kitchen, perhaps for the first time”, Jagranjan adds.

The roti-making machine was incorporated into the cooking infrastructure to appeal to the palettes of the children from North India. This was done to help optimise nutrition and consumption of the mid-day meal among the students all over the country.

“At Gandhinagar apart from the 60,000 rotis per hour machine, we have a standby machine that can take over if needed. In Gujarat the set lunch menu also includes local favourites like dal dhokli, thepla or sukdi (Indian savoury dishes), and a jaggery based sweet dish apart from the staples of roti with sabzi (vegetable) or dal (lentils) and rice,” he says.

Mishra says Akshaya Patra came to Gujarat after Narendra Modi visited their Bangalore facility in 2007. They started kitchens to provide mid-day meals to schools at Gandhinagar, Vadodara and Surat. “We got good support from the CSR (corporate social responsibility) wings of PSUs (public service undertakings) like ONGC, GSPC, GACL and GIPC and local donors,” he says. “In Surat, apart from schools we have also taken up Integrated Child Development Scheme’s in Anganwadis. In 2014, we shifted from the rented premises in Gandhinagar to set up this kitchen on a two-acre plot in Ahmedabad.”

In the kitchen the roti-making machine is the center piece on the ground floor. Upstairs, there are cauldrons and tanks for making dal, vegetables and other foods, while the top floor is the pre-process area where sorting and cutting takes place.

“This is perhaps the first time in India that the gravity flow process previously used for factory materials has been adapted to a kitchen,” Mishra says. “All the machines are linked to conveyors and chutes that channel the prepared food down to the ground floor without any human handling. They are loaded onto vehicles that are customised to hold vessels upright in a honeycomb structure and designed for minimal temperature loss between leaving the kitchen and reaching the school.”

This highly mechanised, streamlined kitchen has certainly met the mark, as Mishra agrees saying their audits show students are getting their meals on time and are happy with their lunches.

– By Anil Mulchandani


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Food and Education

Hubli Kitchen: From traditional to contemporary


The story of the Hubli kitchen is a humble one. What started off as a small kitchen, turned out to be a boon not just for Akshaya Patra but for over 126,000 children who get their mid-day meals from this kitchen every day. The unit operations manager Yagneshwara Dasa has been at the Hubli kitchen since its inception and explains how their work has expanded over the period of 10 years. “We were feeding 4,000 children in 2004. Initially, we got a very good response and the numbers started increasing gradually from 10,000 to 50,000 working from a small kitchen, till we were reaching at least 80,000,” he said.

When the Government of Karnataka allotted a bigger plot for kitchen operations on the outskirts of Hubli, no one knew it would turn out to be one of the biggest Akshaya Patra kitchens in India. In fact, Hubli was the first mega-kitchen following the centralised model with advanced technological initiatives, and acted as a model to the other kitchens that were later built. With help from a small team of devotees, professional architects and some students with an engineering background, the kitchen was designed and fitted with state of the art facilities.

The new kitchen follows a gravity flow model, very different from the earlier single layer kitchen. At the commencement of the new kitchen, there were three floors allotted to undertake everything from cooking to packing and delivering to schools. “These layers help in standardising the operations here at the kitchen,” said Yagneshwara Dasa.

The standardising of operations was one of the main concerns for Akshaya Patra. Quality being the highest priority, the organisation worked towards getting ISO 22000:2005 certification and thereby standardised their operations across all kitchens. With 11 kitchens already certified, the rest are working on getting the certification. The Hubli kitchen was one of the first to be certified after the Bangalore kitchen and is among the most economical kitchens across the country.

The operations manager said that the work at the kitchen progress smoothly even as the number of meals and the responsibilities of the team increases. Every process in the Hubli kitchen is meticulously looked into by the supervisors who coordinate the operations. The quality department works with vendors, who provide food and keep the vendors updated on the latest information to help them adhere to the food quality standards. Stringent quality checks are followed at every level from the point where materials are purchased to food delivery to the schools. He adds “the quality norms here are very stringent because you have to realise that we are giving the food to thousands of children.”

Yagneshwara Dasa certainly realises that and so do the 320 employees of the Hubli kitchen, who shoulder this responsibility with such grace and dedication.

Read more about the Hubli kitchen in an update coming soon.

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Food and Education

#EndClassroomHunger – Turning the tide on malnutrition


Today India is a game changer on the global landscape. But for the progress it has made across all quarters – socially, economically and politically – malnutrition remains the iron chain holding the country back.

Malnutrition affects a vast majority of the Indian population, especially its most vulnerable section, the children. India is home to 400 million children, out of which every second child is malnourished.

The primary reason children suffer from malnutrition in India is due to poverty. With parents who are predominantly uneducated, daily wage earners who struggle to provide for their families, children often don’t have regular access to adequate nutrition. This has a severe impact on the physical, mental and emotional development of children. Due to poor access to nutritious food during their formative years children often suffer from stunted growth, difficulty processing information, trouble developing social skills, concentrating and a host of other issues.

Some of the common nutrient deficiencies that manifest because of malnutrition are Vitamin D (combatted with fortified dairy and grain products), Calcium (prevented by consuming green leafy vegetables, dairy products, nuts, and orange juice), Zinc (found in wheat, oats, pumpkin seeds, milk, nuts, peas), Iodine (found in cheese, milk and table salt) and Vitamin A (in papayas, oranges, carrots, pumpkin, fortified milk and cereals).

The Akshaya Patra Foundation works to combat malnutrition and #EndClassroomHunger in India. Through its healthy, well balanced mid-day meal children are provided with the vital nutrients they require. The programme helps to release children across India from their cycle of hunger by providing them with food for education.

Our children are the future of the country. For every child saved from malnutrition today, India’s future shines a little brighter. Join us to help #EndClassroomHunger.

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Food and Education

Progress report on #HungryForSchool


Three months ago we started an initiative to bring children back to schools after a long summer break. We called it #HungryForSchool. Millions of children look forward to their free mid-day meal at school provided by Akshaya Patra. We did not want to disappoint them when it was time for schools to reopen. That’s why we went all out and sought your support too. And how did we fare? Here’s a progress report on #HungryForSchool.

Name: #HungryForSchool

Class: Standard I to Standard X

School: Every school where we provide mid-day meals

Enthusiasm: A+

There was no dearth of enthusiasm! We were overwhelmed by the response we got through this initiative. People following us on various social media platforms liked our work, shared it, encouraged us and contributed too! We thank everyone for the super support!

Facebook Likes: A+

If ‘likes’ are anything to go by, we have made a great impression. During this period our likes shot up by close to 12,000!

Tweets: A

Famous personalities like Deepak Chopra endorsed our efforts and shared one of our videos. It gave us a good spurt of momentum. We thank him and many others for their efforts.

Donations: A+

This was the ultimate litmus test. The number of donations increased and more importantly, we had many people pledging their support for the program. This in itself was a positive sign for us.

Awareness: A++

Many people did not know of the connection between food and education. Through #HungryForSchool we not only educated people, but also turned them into our ambassadors.

That’s what our progress report on #HungryForSchool says. On the whole, it was extremely satisfactory, but we believe that we have a long way to go. To reach our mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020 and educate more children, we need your support. Click here to know how you can help.

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Food and Education

What can you get for Rs. 750? Too little or too much – Just enough.


Have you ever wondered what you can do with Rs. 750? Anyone who has lived on a college budget knows that even a seemingly paltry amount like this can be stretched for quite a while. But how long is that while – a day or two, a week, a month? What would you say if we told you that we know how to stretch out Rs. 750 for an entire year. Akshaya Patra’s newest video ‘What can you get for Rs. 750?’ explores the ideas people have about the things they can get for this amount. Talking to a cross section of people Akshaya Patra discovered a range of things that can be bought for the amount, but also surprised them in turn with the information that the organisation uses Rs. 750 to feed one child the mid-day meal for an entire academic year.

In today’s world, with inflation, globalisation and rising disposable income, Rs. 750 has become an almost trivial amount to India’s economically stable class of families. But to the young beneficiaries of The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Rs. 750 means a lot more. It means access to another year of the tasty, nutritious mid-day meal, education and hope.

‘What can you get for Rs. 750?’ shows us that there are many things that are far out of reach with an amount like this, but what it can help attain is health, nutrition, the end of classroom hunger and the growth of India as a nation.

Watch the video and share it, to spread awareness of Akshaya Patra’s cause. This will cost you nothing.

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Food and Education

Think twice. Think 750 times.


Money. The way we perceive its value has changed much over time. A one-rupee coin means nothing. Often, a ten-rupee note is something we take for granted. Many of us do not think twice when a meal costs us a fortune. This got us thinking, and we decided to take a camera and head out. We went around asking people what they thought Rs. 750 could get them – we were surprised by the answers we got!

A guard at the metro station

While we were waiting to take the metro to our next shoot location, we chatted with the guard on duty. We asked him what his views were. He scoffed at us! He said that we were crazy to think that we would get anything of value for that much. He went on to ask us if we followed the news or not. The 50 year old man said that the sinking value of money saddened him and left him feeling helpless.

A student

This young boy measured out his life in terms of the pocket money he received (which was a lot more than Rs. 750!). He went on to describe a whole bunch of things he could buy for that much money – many McDonald meals, clothes at offbeat stores, music, fuel for his bike, etc. He sure knew how to ration out his money, but when we told him that Rs. 750 could feed a child for a whole year, he was taken aback! Whatever else he expected, he didn’t quite expect that!

A housewife

They say that if you need lessons in money management, ask a housewife. She sure knows how to plan a whole family’s life within any given budget. But when we told her to figure out how she’d feed someone on Rs. 750 for a year, even she was stumped!

Each conversation we had gave us a fresh insight into our work. It demonstrated how in our day-to-day lives, we may have taken much for granted. But this Rs. 750 can make a huge difference to a child’s life. We urge you to think twice. Think 750 times. And make a meaningful contribution.

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