Food and Education

Mount Carmel College students visit VK Hill Kitchen


The Akshaya Patra kitchens are not just inspiring because of the wonderful work they undertake through cooking the mid-day meal, but also because they serve as an excellent case study for large-scale production and management processes.

It was to study the kitchens from the second perspective that about 20 students from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore visited the Vasanthapura (VK Hill) kitchen on 29th November.

The students came to see the operations process of the kitchen as part of their Food Service Management course to help them understand the nuances of cooking food on a large scale – and the VK Hill kitchen is certainly an excellent model for research.

The highly mechanised kitchen, spread over four floors has adopted a gravity flow model to aid in the cooking process. The storage of raw material, as well as vegetable cleaning and cutting is done on the top floors, while the cooking and loading of food is undertaken on the lower levels. Huge silos filled with dal and rice are constructed on the top floor, from which the required amount of grain/pulses is dropped down chutes for cooking. These technologically advanced processes minimise human contact with the food, thereby ensuring the mid-day meals are not just tasty and nutritious, but hygienic as well.

In the Akshaya Patra kitchens everything runs like clockwork. Everyday fresh vegetables are received from vendors by 11 a.m., and it is cleaned and put into a cold storage room till 2 a.m. At this time, in the early hours of the morning the kitchen staff assembles from their accommodation provided on the campus, to commence cooking for the day. Between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m. food sufficient for almost 100,000 meals is cooked, packed and transported to the delivery vans for loading via a conveyor belt.

The students from Mount Carmel College, none of whom had previously visited an Akshaya Patra kitchen were impressed with the operation, describing the kitchen as ‘well organised’ and ‘hygienic’. Dr. Sangeeta Pandey, Head of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at Mount Carmel, says, “I come here (to the Vasanthapura kitchen) every year. I have always been very impressed by the cleanliness and safety standards maintained in the cooking for the children. We bring the students here to help them understand how cooking on a large scale is undertaken. Earlier we used to go to the HK Hill kitchen, but we’ve started coming here as the scale of operations is larger at this kitchen.”

This glowing testimonial of the kitchen illustrates how Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme exemplifies great production standards combined with excellent management practices. It is our hope that in the future more students will visit, so Akshaya Patra can continue to help educate and inspire the next generation of India’s entrepreneurs.

The author arjun

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