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VisitorsCoverage sponsors 2014 Benefit Event!

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VisitorsCoverage donated $2,500 as sponsorship for the 2014 Akshaya Patra Benefit Event held at San Francisco recently. This donation will help the Foundation provide the daily, nutritious mid-day meal to 166 children in India for an entire year!

VisitorsCoverage makes a generous donation to Akshaya Patra
VisitorsCoverage makes a generous donation to Akshaya Patra

We sincerely thank VisitorsCoverage for their generosity and their support in helping Akshaya Patra fight the battle against classroom hunger in India. We are grateful and encouraged by such support that transcends all barriers. It reiterates that it is only through a consolidated, global effort that issues like malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty can finally be eradicated.

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Celebrate Generosity on #GivingTuesday

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#GivingTuesday is just around the corner and individuals, corporates and NGOs globally are getting set with their plans to celebrate this special day. On this day the whole world will be united in one common thought – to rejoice in generosity and the joy of giving. #GivingTuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following the American holiday Thanksgiving.

#GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 and has been picked up enthusiastically worldwide. A social media movement, #GivingTuesday encourages people to donate in any form they wish. Whether the expression takes the form of a thought shared online, or a donation made to someone in need, #GivingTuesday celebrates the essence of the holiday season by remembering the needs of the less fortunate.

To celebrate this day corporates and charities work closely together to provide a platform for people to give generously to those in need. In fact Cisco, whose preferred partner in India is Akshaya Patra, plans to launch an interesting campaign with us to mark this day.

In addition to this Hyatt Community Grants, the philanthropic programme of Hyatt Hotels has also planned to partner with Akshaya Patra in celebration of #GivingTuesday 2014!

We can’t wait to be a part of this wonderful occasion when the whole world will come together to spread happiness through giving. In the meantime keep check in with our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages on 2nd December to find out more about our #GivingTuesday campaign!

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It’s our Birthday!

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Akshaya Patra turns 14 and we’re taking a look back at our journey thus far!

Born of the simple thought to end classroom hunger, the organisation’s vision that ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ has now snowballed into a movement that has touched the lives and hearts of people all over the country and beyond.

With humble beginnings feeding just 1,500 children across 5 schools in the year 2000, today Akshaya Patra feeds over 1.4 million children across 10,661 Government and Government-aided schools across India on every school day. Headquartered in Bangalore the Foundation runs 23 kitchens in 10 states of India, and has a presence in the U.S. and U.K. too.

Akshaya Patra has crossed some huge milestones in the past 14 years. Some of them are:

  • 2000 – Launches the feeding programme with just 1,500 children in 5 schools across Bangalore
  • 2001 – The Akshaya Patra feeding programme gains momentum with the mid-day meal becoming compulsory in Government schools.
  • 2002 – The technologically advanced roti making machine is introduced in the Vrindavan kitchen.
  • 2003 – The Government of Karnataka invites Akshaya Patra to partner with it to supply the mid-day meals in the state.
  • 2004 – Akshaya Patra expands to Hubli, Jaipur, Mangalore and Mysore too.
  • 2005 – Introduces a decentralised kitchen in Baran to reach remote areas of India.
  • 2006 – Harvard Business School does a case study on Akshaya Patra’s operations processes.
  • 2007 – Opens more kitchens at Nayagarh, Bhilai, Gandhinagar and a second kitchen in Bangalore.
  • 2008 – Becomes the first Indian NGO to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • 2009 – Serves up 500 million cumulative meals.
  • 2010 – Guwahati kitchen is opened establishing a presence in the north east.
  • 2011 – Opens a centralised kitchen in Chennai.
  • 2012 – Akshaya Patra serves its billionth meal.
  • 2013 – Ranked 23rd in The Global Journal list of top 100 NGOs in the world, and opens the Jodhpur kitchen.
  • 2014 – Opens kitchens at Cuttack and Rourkela in Odisha.

Aside from these milestones Akshaya Patra has also received huge accolades for excellence in communications, operations process, food safety and financial reporting. The Foundation received the Gold Shield Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for excellence in financial reporting five years in a row, gaining a place in the ICAI hall of fame – the first NGO to ever do so. Akshaya Patra has also received three consecutive LACP (League of American Communications Professionals) Vision Gold Awards, and was awarded the CII National Award for Food Safety by the Confederation of Indian Industry amongst many others.

The past 14 years have seen huge success and growth for the organisation, but there is a long way to go. Looking ahead, the plans are firmly underway to keep the Foundation motoring on course to fulfil its mission of reaching 5 million children by 2020.

But in order to reach that goal we need your help. So join us in our fight to provide food for education to the children of India. Together we can end classroom hunger!

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Making the most of IT

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Keeping abreast with changes in information technology (IT) is crucial to any organisation that wants to scale up and increase productivity. If a company is growing, your dependence on IT will grow with it. Output and expectations increase, timelines decrease, and efficiency is the word of the day. Whether the goal is profit or not, information technology is the linchpin to achieving the organisation’s vision and mission.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation has seen phenomenal growth in the 14 years since its inception. From feeding just 1,500 children across 5 schools in Bangalore, today the Foundation feeds over 1.4 million children in 23 locations across 10 states of India every day. Coordinating these efforts involving hundreds of people employed in different capacities across the kitchens and corporate headquarters is no easy feat. But the aggressive use of information technology has helped run the organisation like a well-oiled machine.

There are a few distinct ways in which Akshaya Patra utilises information technology: end–user support, IT infrastructure, security and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

Akshaya Patra has taken decisive steps with its investment into information technology. Office 365 has been added to the email infrastructure. A Citrix XenApp server was set up to ensure that the servers are up and running all the time. Akshaya Patra has hired a data center facility to house servers and associated components. The Foundation migrated to Windows 7 and also implemented SharePoint to aid in the transfer of information.

The management team at Akshaya Patra understands the crucial role information technology plays in realising the organisation’s goals. Supporting the Foundation’s mission to feed 5 million children by 2020, the IT team at Akshaya Patra is already looking to the future to see how best they can contribute to achieving this target in the least amount of time. But Akshaya Patra’s modus operandi of implementing the latest in information technology, combined with the expertise of its IT team, certainly looks to have put the Foundation on the path to success.

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It’s Teacher’s Day all this month

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To commemorate Teacher’s Day, The Akshaya Patra Foundation organised a special event. The programme which began on 06 September, 2014 is running for four Saturdays at different venues across Bangalore. Children from four schools have come together to pull off an outstanding display which includes a skit on Teacher’s Day, a dance and a musical which celebrates the spirit of Lord Krishna.

The focus of this event is commemorating the late Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice-President and second President of India whose birthday is celebrated on Teacher’s Day. It was Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan who stated that ‘teachers should have the best minds in the country.’

The students gave a spirited performance and the crowds received it very well, cheering constantly. “This is about Guruvandana (respect to teachers). Compared to the yesteryears, today the rapport between students and teachers is not as much as earlier. Having an event like this will help bridge the gap between them. It is an occasion which will be remembered by everyone,” said Padmavatham, a teacher.

The whole-hearted support from the teachers to their students in their endeavour did justice to the spirit of Teacher’s Day. “We salute our teachers for being our role models, and we want to show our appreciation to them on a day like this,” said Durga Prasad, a child from the dance troupe.

This dynamic programme has drawn lots of support which is an encouraging sign for such an event to continue every year.

You can join in to celebrate this event at the following date and venue:

27 September, 2014, RV College, Basvangudi

View some images from this programme here.

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Gift a Tara: A creative collaboration between Worldoo.com and Akshaya Patra

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Worldoo.com, an interactive online eco-system designed for children, has teamed up with Akshaya Patra! It is a platform for children (citizens of worldoo.com) to read, watch videos, view pictures etc. and earn stars.

In its partnership with Akshaya Patra, Worldoo.com developed the creative concept of ‘Gift a Tara’ whereby children can donate the stars they have earned to an underprivileged child. These stars which act as virtual currency on Worldoo.com, can then be converted into real money and donated towards the cause of providing food for education to a hungry child in India.

Aside from being a noble cause, Worldoo.com also helps children understand the need to be generous to those in need, and experience the pleasure of helping another human being. Being an interactive, educational, exciting platform, that is designed specifically to nurture the healthy development of children, Worldoo.com empowers children to explore their world and contribute to making it better.

With millions of children having limited access to healthy food and education, the unique concept of ‘Gift a Tara’ attempts to bridge the gap between the economically secure and economically challenged children of India. Worldoo.com explains to children that by the simple yet generous act of donating a few of their stars to the programme, they too can ‘be a Star.’

Akshaya Patra is glad to be associated with Worldoo.com, and looks forward to the progress that can together be achieved in the cause of providing food for education to the young ones in need.

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Akshaya Patra begins ‘Orbit Shifting Innovation’

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Our vision at Akshaya Patra is that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ and we have taken it as our mission to reach 5 million children by 2020.

A vision of this magnitude requires thinking and functioning far beyond the traditional approach. We have identified and are committed to innovation as the route to reach there. Not any innovation, but Orbit Shifting Innovation™. We are partnering with the best innovation mind in the industry, Erehwon Innovation Consulting – a pioneering innovation consulting firm that has developed Orbit Shifting Innovation™, as a methodology over the past 22 years through cutting edge research and engagements with several corporates around the world.

Akshaya Patra and Erehwon have begun a journey to institutionalise and embed innovation into the DNA of Akshaya Patra such that innovation becomes the ‘Defining’ and ‘Driving’ element in the working and functioning of the organisation. Through this journey, Akshaya Patra will expand its innovation portfolio in strategy and operations, embed innovation practices and rhythms into the organisation, and build the right structures and capability.

The first leg of the journey begins with setting up an institutional design for innovation and transforming the operations of our kitchens. As we get started, watch this space for more updates!

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Cutting the ribbon in Cuttack and Ahmedabad

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Akshaya Patra has been expanding its operations by leaps and strides recently. The last two months have seen the organisation open its 23rd kitchen at Cuttack, in the state of Odisha in July, and inaugurate its Ahmedabad kitchen in August.

The kitchen at Cuttack is the Foundation’s 21st centralised kitchen, and the fourth kitchen in Odisha. The kitchen was developed through the assistance of Primary Donor, The Kusuma Foundation, RC Infinity Foundation (Kolkata), LIC Golden Jubilee Foundation, NALCO, and the Odisha Mining Corporation.

The kitchen was inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, along with General Surat Singh Sandhu, the Chairman of The Kusuma Foundation, and Pankaj Vinayak Sharma, the country leader of The Kusuma Foundation.

The Cuttack kitchen is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment that allows it to undertake large scale cooking, and currently feeds 45,000 children across 190 schools a day, with the intention to expand further.

The Ahmedabad kitchen which was inaugurated on 03 August, 2014 was developed to replace the Akshaya Patra kitchen at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. This kitchen is one of the largest in India; spread over two acres of land, with a capacity to cook up to 200,000 meals in five hours.

The kitchen was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, and Vasuben Trivedi, Minister of State-Women and Child Development, Government of Gujarat and other eminent dignitaries.

This kitchen is a fully automated enterprise which employs the gravity-flow system in its operations process, is equipped with a full scale bakery to provide the children with wheat items, and also fitted with a roti making machine capable of making 60,000 rotis an hour! This kitchen will feed 121,508 children across 666 schools in the Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar area.

The Ahmedabad kitchen was primarily sponsored by The Hans Foundation, Co-Sponsored by the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), with support from Chimanlal Agrawal & Family, and Nandlal Agrawal & Family.

These two kitchens exemplify Akshaya Patra’s commitment towards fulfilling its mission of feeding five million children by 2020, as well as showcases the Foundation’s adherence to using only the best practices, equipment and philosophy to help end classroom hunger in India.

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We say two XX make a right

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Akshaya Patra has always believed that the development of the country can only be achieved through the inclusive development of every section of Indian society, especially its women. To achieve this, we strive to provide food for education to every single child in need, irrespective of their caste, religion, or chromosomal formation – XY for male, and XX for female.

Through this programme we have impacted the status of women in India in three significant ways:

Rise in female school enrolment

Very often, in economically challenged families, the girl child is denied the opportunity to enrol in school. If there is a choice in the matter, the son is encouraged to study, while the daughter must stay at home to look after her younger siblings, help her mother with the household chores, or even take up employment to contribute to the family income. However, with the introduction of the free, nutritious mid-day meal, parents are now more eager to send their daughters to school as it relieves them of the burden of feeding an extra mouth. This has resulted in the sharp rise in the enrolment of girls in schools. According to an AC Neilson study the number of girls enrolled in schools in Bangalore grew from 72.7 per cent in 2005-06 to 93.5 per cent in 2009-10. The same study also showed that the enrolment of class I – VIII girls in Puri increased from 73.3 per cent in 2006 to 86.7 per cent in 2009.

Improved nutritional status of girls

After eating the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal every day, the young girls who previously suffered malnutrition and other deficiencies, have blossomed. Our mid-day meals have been carefully designed keeping in mind the nutritional requirements of children, as laid down in the mid-day meal guidelines specified by the Government of India. These stringent measures have borne fruit as the AC Neilson impact study shows. According to the study the number of girls who do not suffer from malnutrition in the Akshaya Patra beneficiary schools in Puri rose from 58.9 per cent in 2006 to 60.4 per cent in 2010.

Empowerment of women through employment

With each of the 23 kitchens set up, we have provided employment to women across a range of functions. From being a part of the supervising, cooking, cleaning, quality control staff and more, women form an integral part of the Akshaya Patra work force. The Foundation has also established two decentralised kitchens, one in Baran and the other at Nayagarh, which are run primarily by women Self-Help Groups (SHGs). These two kitchens employed 1,530 female employees as of April 2014. These women who are actively employed, gaining financial independence and social respect, have become a source of inspiration to the young girls in their community.

Apart from the mid-day meal served to school children, Akshaya Patra also works toward providing women with the nutrition they need by providing meals at Anganwadi centres and undertaking the feeding of pregnant and lactating mothers.

Through the mid-day meal programme, Akshaya Patra reaches out to young girls and women across India to provide them with not just the nutrition they need to lead a healthy life, but to also give them the foundation for a valuable, fulfilling life in the future.

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The Boston Globe’ up close with Deshpande

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Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande recently took a tour of our Jaipur kitchen with Former US President Bill Clinton. The visit also entailed interacting with the beneficiaries at one of the schools and serving food among others. Deshpande, Ravindra Chamaria and the Government of India had made a Commitment to Clinton Global Initiative to scale up and reach out to more children with mid day meals, in 2008. To know more click here.

Talking to the Boston Globe correspondent about the visit and Akshaya Patra, Deshpande emphasised on the essence of mid day meal programme “One educated person in the family can lift the family out of poverty, break the cycle,” he said.

He explained Social Innovation as the application of business strategies to solve social problems and said “Technology and compassion, together, can make magic” referring to the mechanised kitchens of Akshaya Patra.

Akshaya Patra operates kitchens in 23 locations in India of which 21 kitchens are mechanised and 11 of them are ISO certified. Some of our kitchens have also been certified by International Food Safety Management System. The kitchens have the capacity to cook for up to 100,000 meals in a few hours. The roti (Indian bread) making machines convert the wheat to flour and then to dough and have the capacity to roll out up to 200,000 rotis.

The kitchens attract people from around the world and have become a model to study for institutes such as Harvard Business School. Read more on what Deshpande and others had to share about the Akshaya Patra with the correspondent on BostonGlobe.com

Source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2014/07/22/andover-philanthropist-works-distribute-school-meals-impoverished-indian-children/GF7FMpikDZX4OIN15ArF3H/story.html

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