Each beneficiary of The Akshaya Patra Foundation mid-day meal scheme builds a special bond with the organisation through every meal. The food that reaches over 1.39 million school children across nine states and 22 locations in India is prepared with great care. We have read about how the organisation meticulously prepares the nutritious mid-day meal and takes it to 10,631 schools across the country every day. Now let’s see what the children have to say about why they go to school.

Sarita, a 15-year-old from Karnataka, has been a beneficiary of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme since she was five years old. According to her, school and the mid-day meal have given her the opportunity to be healthy and have an ambition. She aspires to be a lawyer. She gets to learn History and Civics at school which are essential subjects to achieve her goal.

“I want to change the face of law in our country by fighting for the truth alone. And school is helping me be a better person every day. The free meal that we get in school engenders a sense of gratitude in me that there is someone out there who helps us at every step in life,” says Sarita. As for Rajput Pritesh Mahesh Bhai from Gujarat, the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is better than homemade food! “I love Dal Dhokli and Moong Khichdi,” says Pritesh. (Both are Gujarati specialties made out of lentils). The breakfast in Pritesh’s household is usually a single roti (Indian flat bread) from the previous night. Hence the children depend on the mid-day meal.

For school dropouts, the mid-day meal is a great incentive to come back to school. Tanku and Sankar Behra from Odisha dropped out of school at a young age due to financial difficulties in their family. A few years later, they joined a Government Primary School where Akshaya Patra provides mid-day meals. Explaining their family situation, their teacher Prabhamani says, “Their mother and older brother manage the house doing menial jobs. Tanku and Shankar have lunch at school which is of great relief to their mother. Their health is much better now and school has taught them to maintain personal hygiene as well. This one meal from Akshaya Patra has motivated them to come to school.”

While most children go to school for the mid-day meal and for education, some others go for the pleasure of escaping their difficult lives. Sadhana, a girl aged 14, helps her mother who works as a domestic assistant in households in Chhattisgarh. Sadhana loves school because it gives her the opportunity to be herself and learn new things. It’s a place where she meets her friends and gets a break from her hardships. She wants to grow up to be a teacher.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is making a small difference in the lives of millions of families in India. The organisation aims to reach out to more such families who are in need.

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