Just as the children get back to school to start their new academic year, the next perk they score for being a regular at school is a nutritious lunch, which in turn leads to better health. Akshaya Patra has been working towards it through Mid-Day Meal Programme which is benefitting over 1.6 million children every day. The support offered by various corporate companies through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative has helped Akshaya Patra reach the milestone of serving 2 billion meals in 2016.
As Corporate Social Responsibility becomes a means to engage with the society, corporates can also adopt various practices to ensure that they leave a long-lasting impact on the society. It can be divided in three segments:
Raising awareness about a social cause can contribute quite a bit towards developing the society. Bringing awareness about a seasonal disease or fighting against stigma and discrimination of any kind, all these require a campaign which can reach the minds of people and lead to change in their actions. This way a developed society can be built.
A recent example is of NetApp, a data management and cloud storage solutions company, where they launched their Global Volunteer Programme. Called Food For All, the programme was conceptualised after realising the number of people who go hungry every single day. The company encouraged people to pledge at least eight hours towards social service.
They even donated insulated vessels along with other items to facilitate operations at Akshaya Patra. To continue serving the children, about 40 volunteers from NetApp visit Akshaya Patra every month between 9:30 am to 3 pm. They contribute towards pre-processing activities ranging from washing and cleaning cauldrons, vessels and vehicles to segregating pulses, de-husking coconut.
Helping NGOs reach their goal
While community service takes a company closer to the beneficiaries, supporting the NGO with required equipment can be another way towards making a social change. The equipment can be anything, from cooking utensils to vans.
Many corporates who partner with Akshaya Patra provide cooking equipment like cauldrons, equipment for storing the food like Hot Insulated Vessels to keep food hot for 8-10 hours, vans which again have insulators and ensure that the food reaches schools without spilling.
In April 2017, State Bank of India donated 1,250 hot insulated vessels to Akshaya Patra which would be distributed among kitchens in Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Nathdwara kitchens.
Another such example is of Snapdeal who supported Akshaya Patra by pledging daal for one million meals. They invited their customers to donate towards the campaign which was started in March. The campaign reached four times higher their set target and currently they have managed to provide daal for four million meals.
Uber also supported the campaign with messages reflected in their app-messages and cards. These motivated the riders to pledge their contribution towards the cause. Huawei came forward to make an equally matched contribution to Akshaya Patra.
Environment literacy is just a part of the contribution you can make towards welfare of the society. Reusing the organic waste to produce biogas can be a great way of making the best use of kitchen waste.
We at Akshaya Patra have been adopting a similar practice at our kitchens across the country. As part of our Go Green initiative, the first biogas unit was set up at our Ballari kitchen. The plant processes 1,000 kg of kitchen waste per day that includes vegetable rejects, cooked food waste, replacing LPG. On an average this technology helps us save around three LPG cylinders per day.
A similar biogas plant has also been installed in our Vasanthapura kitchen in Bengaluru. This plant produces 1,400 kilograms of biogas monthly that is equal to 700 kilograms of LPG. Hence approximately Rs 38,500 is saved every month towards LPG purchase. Besides reducing cost towards purchasing LPG, it also helps in eco-friendly handling of food wastages approximately 20 metric tonne every month.
With the help of Tata Trust, similar units will be set up at our kitchens all over the country.