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It’s all about tackling hunger on a sunny afternoon

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A thought similar to this would run across anyone’s mind when they see a horde of young children, in their blue uniforms, run with their plates to the lunch area in the Government Higher primary school in Thalaghata, Bangalore. The impatience they exuded implied that they were all hungry. The importance of a freshly-cooked, nutritious meal served in a school, attended mostly by underprivileged children, can be derived by just visualizing the eagerness in which the children waited to fill their plates, eventually their stomachs.

“I love coming to school because I enjoy eating lunch here” said Bharath Kumar, a fifth grade student, as he relished his treat of rice with sambhar. Many other children shared a similar voice. “I come to school everyday because I don’t have to stay hungry till dinner” said 14-year-old Mallikarjuna, while he helped the school staff in serving sambhar to his other fellow students. Mallikarjuna’s mother, who works as a construction labourer after his father’s death, barely manages to fend for a single meal for the family.

The 8th grade student’s routine in school has given him a chance to aspire for a better future for him and his family.

Several such examples can be found appraising the success of the Government’s mid-day meal programme. The enthusiasm, realization and contentment with which children eat the Akshaya Patra meal complement the benefits and the success of the programme.

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Akshaya Patra, the saviour of many lives

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Everyone in need of help often wait for miracles to happen but Jayalakshmi, who hails from a remote part of Vishakhapatnam, goes to the nearby AnganwAkshaya Patra, the saviour of many livesadi to get her share of, what she calls, marvel – a hope that shines brightly at her in the form of the Akshaya Patra meals supplied at the Anganwadi. She goes there everyday with her 10-month-old toddler to eat freshly cooked, nutritious and a hearty meal which on a few bad days is the only option she has to fill her stomach. The meal that she savors is a part of the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mid-day meal programme for pregnant women and lactating mothers at Government-run Anganwadis.

Jayalakshmi’s family ponders below the breadline. Her husband Mallapparaju works at a construction site and earns less than a few hundreds every week. Until a few years ago, Jayalakshmi accompanied Mallapparaju at work so that the family could afford at least one complete meal a day. But now the lactating mother has to resort to some menial job as domestic help to add a few more pennies to the pound her husband earns. Her elder daughter Vishala, who is 4 years old, goes to the same Government-run kindergarten where she is being prepared to step into school.

Like they say, “the inevitable consequence of poverty is dependence”. Jayalakshmi sees reality in this thought as she is completely aware of her and her family’s dependence on the Akshaya Patra meal every day. She knows what is best for her children and for herself, which is within reach and in plenty. She trusts the goodness in each Akshaya Patra meal and the benefit it bears on her family. For Jayalakshmi the availability of a humble meal is certainly a miracle making its way everyday into her life.

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Free Lunch Plan

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By: Cindy

Nearly four-week-internship in AKSHAYA PATRA is coming to an end with the memory fresh about the emotions mixed with uneasy fear and trembling, expectation and nervous. The first time to know about and work in an NGO.

From the first it was born, AKSHAYA PATRA, the biggest kitchen in the world, is related with children, hunger and education. I prefer its vision—No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.”,compared with lots of slogans of other foundations and NGOs—to improve the development of human and eliminate poverty forever, as it seems simple and pure.

It is a fresh mid-day meal but also a constant care for the children.

We went to a government primary school, where the students can’t speak English. When we told them that we were from AKSHAYA PATRA, children replied instantly, lunch, everyday. Two simple words and the pure smile, are the pride of everyone in AKSHAYA PATRA.

Lunch and everyday are two simple but warm words from them. Day after day for over 10 years, their mission is to deliver the fresh lunch to children’s hands. This is a direct and effective style of doing commonweal, which calls for initiative and perseverance.

The mid-day lunch program attracts big attention from the public. Many famous people joined the program to advertise or promote it. Unfortunately, it calls for milestone-like opportunity to be advanced or reformed into a sustainable program. AKSHAYA PATRA has rich experience in that aspect.

I want to talk about my harvest in emotional part.Every time we visit schools with the aim to get some photos of children having their lunch peacefully but failed with the crowd of children, excited with the delight of seeing foreigners. Once step into the campus, children gathered around us. Although they can’t speak English, they consisted on asking us “where are you from, what’s your name, do you love India?”, cute questions.
We didn’t stay long in the campus and left with the continually byebye.

Once chatting with one colleague graduated not long, he worked in the food industry before came here. He said to me many harvests are hard to measure with salary and this is want he wants. Another middle-aged female colleague said happily she is able to do something for children.

It is soon that we will leave. The bored feeling several days ago changed into miss here. I even start to miss the smell floated everyday from the kitchen and the passionate greetings from the safety guard every morning.

Read More: http://mealsforanoblecause.blogspot.com/

http://lunchplan.blog.163.com/  

http://blog.sina.com.cn/mealsforeducation

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Objectives of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme

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By: Angela

Far away from my country, I haven’t thought I whether I could change myself or not, or change others. We live in Dharward’s city centre. This is a city which only have a highway road cross. There is no entertainment, only can find some shops and banks. I think it as a country side. Everyday we go to work and back to the homestay, bored and pale.

One day we have a chance to visit a village school. There, green tree and red earth makes a shock eyes. Women, children and the olds stay in the village. We arrived the school, it’s not big. There’s a playground in front of the classroom and children play on it.

When we got off the car, children crowed with great curiosity and more and more children came to us. Brown skin, black hair, big eyes, it’s my impression. Everything is the same but big smile made a deep memory. They both don’t speak English, but they eager to talk with us. We can communicate with each other only with few sentences like what’s your name and where are you from. To our surprise, they know Jacky Chen and KengFu!!! How can they know that!?

After they saw our camera, they are excited. They really show their longing to take a photo. We are so moving, for their sincere. Maybe they will stay here for whole life, maybe we are the few foreigners they have seen, and maybe after seeing us let them know the great world, let them know that there are many different countries people living in the same world. Maybe we made their have new ideas about the world and life. Whatever, even we can change little, but we actually make a change.

In the month, I have doubted the meaning about this summer, I have complained the boring job, I have felt sad about everyday is the same’ s life. However, in the end, I think we find the truth that why we are in India this summer. The world is changed by us, even is a small blog on the internet, even is some quick glance, even is only 480 hours stay.

Read More: http://mealsforanoblecause.blogspot.com/

http://lunchplan.blog.163.com/

http://blog.sina.com.cn/mealsforeducation

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Blogging: it’s all about influencing the influencers

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Back in 1999, when blogger.com started (Google acquired it in 2003), blogging was a small aspect of the online space in India. Little was foreseen about how it would become one of the biggest driving forces in customer engagement in the near future. Even now, compared to the overall size of the blogging community, the Indian base is small, but that doesn’t mean they have any less influence on their readers.

Bloggers like to express their views on what’s happening around them and what affects them the most. No wonder then that social issues such as corruption, launch of gadgets and gizmos, or even ad campaigns such as Pepsi’s ‘Youngistaan Ka WOW’ were written about by bloggers in great numbers. Bloggers, being publishers, need to have a good readership, and it also calls for good social networking skills, both online and offline.

Bloggers use their networking to publicise the content on various social platforms. This phenomenon has been used by brands to engage with bloggers — to influence the influencers.

Success stories

Dove recently ran one of the biggest blogging contests in India where the total campaign reach was 3.7 million readers, making it one of the most successful campaigns worldwide. The contest was targeted towards women bloggers who had to blog about what real beauty meant to them. It saw participation from over 350 bloggers.

Another success story was that of Samsung India Mobile that did a campaign with technology bloggers in India. The contest had over 220 bloggers participate and share insights into the newly launched Galaxy Tab 750. This was followed up with a blogger meet in Bangalore attended by more than 200 bloggers to experience the product and get to know more about the brand and the company. Twenty winners got to be the official Samsung Mobilers, apart from winning the gadget in question.

Some of the other brands that have been engaging with bloggers include Akshaya Patra, a non-governmental organisation that is into midday meal schemes for children; Hewlett-Packard’s Imaging Printing group, Tata DOCOMO, Fiat, Cleartrip and a few more.

These brands have realised that it’s all about gaining mindshare with the influencers, and blogger communities are helping bridge the gap between the exclusive and often illusive set of bloggers and the brands.

However, it’s important to understand the difference between engaging and simply giving information. Some brands have made the cardinal mistake of considering bloggers journalists, and that’s where most companies languish at just trying to get a sustainable relationship with bloggers.

Networking

Bloggers love new information, but that does not mean you treat them as journalists. Bloggers love to network and that’s the first thing any engagement model needs to do.

Today, although most recalled brands in India have social media presence on Facebook, they would still be classified as owned media. What brands are now moving towards is earned media, of which blogging forms a major part. Having brand ambassadors who talk about you, and spread effective word of mouth is most critical because it has highest trust and credibility in the online space. (The author is the director and co-founder of IndiBlogger.in)

Source: The Hindu

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Overseeing a massive undertaking

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Early morning 6 o’clock and Akshaya Patra’s Mysore kitchen is bustling with activity. Having started more than an hour ago, it is in full swing with teams of employees working harmoniously in the various responsibilities assigned. Some supervise steaming cauldrons capable of cooking 100kgs of rice each. Others focus on masala preparations near a massive stone grinder whirling at steady speed where more than 60 coconuts are grated each day for seasoning. Yet others are involved in measuring out the quantities of ghee, oil and other ingredients needed for cooking.

Assigning those responsibilities and superintending the overall operations is Srikanth S. K. He has been working with the Foundation for nearly 1 ½ years and handles the day to day processes of the kitchen.

“We use between 200 to 300 kgs of rice, 230 kgs of dal and around 650 to 700 kgs of vegetables everyday,” says Srikanth. He goes on to explain how each school is visited approximately once in two months, and the feedback collected is used to make adjustments to the cooking process. “Today, we’re making tomato bath*. We received feedback that the children wanted something different to taste,” he adds, carefully watching to ensure that exactly 4.5 kgs of ghee and 8 litres of oil are measured out in equal quantities for each cauldron.

“It is great satisfaction to know that the work I do is helping children,” he says.

*Tomato bath is a rice preparation with a strong flavouring of tomato, enhanced with spices and cooked with vegetables.

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Doing what needs to be done

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“We do all the work that needs to be taken care of,” says Narayana Murthy of his responsibilities in the kitchen. “Everyone supports everyone else and we do what needs to be done.”

After helping with the actual cooking process, where his work involves rice cleaning, supervising steaming cauldrons of boiling rice and vegetable preparation, Narayana is busy loading steel containers packed with hot meals into waiting food vans. Feedback taken from schools every day tells him exactly how many containers need to be packed in each vehicle.

An hour later and he has changed from the rich blue kitchen uniform to the khaki brown outfit of a driver. All the food vans are neatly packed and ready for delivery.

There are five routes covering all the schools that Akshaya Patra reaches out to in Mysore.* Each one comprises of approximately 14 to 15 schools. The route that Narayana will drive has 14 schools. “We’ve mapped out the schools for each route. The steel containers are packed in the order that the schools are located on a route,” he explains.

On the lid of every container is the route number itself, followed by each school’s assigned number for the route. This numbering system makes it easier for them to keep track of every school’s requirements.

“We always know exactly how much food each school asked for. Once we make the delivery, we also ask the teachers what they may need for the following day. This feedback is then given to the supervisors so that there is never any shortage at any school.”

*As of February 2011

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Running a clean, healthy workplace

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“No matter what happens, we have to deliver food to all schools on time. No matter what,” says Someshekara. Though it is no easy task serving freshly cooked food to more than 17,000* children everyday, he helps Akshaya Patra’s Mangalore kitchen meets its high standards through constant supervision and strict adherence to a timeline.

Highly energetic and diligent, there is very little that passes by in the kitchen without Someshekara’s notice. From making sure that every employee is wearing his or her hairnet and gloves, to ensuring that all the vessels are thoroughly cleaned, he attends to the smallest details of kitchen operations. He receives feedback from the inspection head to make sure that the right amount of food reaches all schools.

With two years of experience in the Bangalore kitchen and another two in Mangalore, Someshekara is well versed in the dynamics of managing people and running operations on a day to day basis. He has very strong belief on the type of employees who meet the Foundation’s criteria.

“What we want above all at Akshaya Patra,” he says, “are people who are dedicated. And then, neatness. Neatness is very important.”

His work gives him a great sense of satisfaction, he says. “Many people in our Mangalore kitchen, especially the ladies, are here simply because we serve children. They’re not here out of necessity. We all work very hard. Everyone has to contribute and help everyone else out. That’s very important,” he says with pride.

“Safety and hygiene is very important,” he says. “They insist on it at Akshaya Patra. We work with steam at very high temperatures. And that is risky. We have to be very diligent.”

*As of March 2011

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Effluent Treatment Plant in Hubli

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An appealing garden graces the Hubli kitchen campus, adding a serene quality to the sleek modern architecture of the building. Immaculately maintained, it is a testament to Akshaya Patra’s ‘go green’ efforts in Hubli, where we are aiming for ISO14000 certification.

One of the successful initiatives of these efforts is the effluent treatment plant (ETP) that has been running for nearly a year. Laxman Wakkunda, who is part of the team responsible for smooth running of the ETP explains how the plant functions. “Water from vegetable cutting, rice cleaning and vessel washing all comes in separately to the plant,” he says, pointing to pipes leading from the kitchen into the ETP. It flows naturally into a series of troughs of differing heights, getting progressively cleaner as it flows from one trough to another. Laxman prepares the culture needed to clean the water everyday, which includes approximately 2kgs of sugar and half a kg of salt. “We use around 20 liters of it daily,” he adds. “We prepare it 24 hours in advance.”

Maintaining and running the ETP is a 24 hour job according to him. “The kitchen shift starts as early as 2:30 in the morning, and our work begins from then,” he says. Laxman works together with his co-worker Hanumanth Gathanavar to manage the day to day operations of the plant.

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Best ‘bhagidari’ award by Delhi Government

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Akshaya Patra was recognized as the best ‘Bhagidari’ [Partnership effort] under social development by the Government of Delhi. Akshaya Patra was selected among 14 non-governmental organizations to participate in the two-day annual Bhagidari Mela hosted by the Government of Delhi on 9th and 10th April 2011 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. This event also witnessed the participation of 45 departments of Delhi government and several resident welfare associations (RWA).

Mela was inaugurated by the Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday 9th April. The inaugural ceremony had vibrant performances in the form of street plays (nukkad nataks), folk performances, magic shows and performance by local music bands. Interactive stalls were put up by various government departments such as Delhi Jal board, departments of education, environment, police, women welfare, mission convergence, aap ki rasoi, ladli, disaster management and many others. Akshaya Patra which has partnered with the Government of Delhi to run Aap ki Rasoi programme was invited to have its stall in the mela to promote the scheme. The Delhi Government, through this mela intends to spread awareness about several projects which contribute towards the development of the state.

On the 10th April, Akshaya Patra received a certificate of recognition and momento for being the best ‘Bhagidari’ under social development by Delhi CM for the implementation of Aap Ki rasoi programme in an efficient manner.

As of now, Akshaya Patra, under the banner of Aap ki Rasoi is feeding nearly 1300 homeless and underprivileged people across five locations in Delhi. Akshaya Patra is thankful to all the visitors of the mela and its proud partners ITC Maurya and Taj group for their support.

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