He gripped the spoon tightly, shying away and looking through the corner of his eyes. In just an audible whisper, he said that his favorite meal was rice and sambhar, that he also liked sweet. He put another spoonful of rice into his mouth with a happy smile.
13 year old Prateek is a special child suffering from cerebral palsy. Born in a middle class family, Prateek goes to the Aruna Chetana, a school for children with special needs where Akshaya Patra also serves the mid-day meals. Almost all the children eat Akshaya Patra’s freshly cooked food everyday at lunch.
Gayathri, the Vice President of Aruna Chetana, expresses enthusiasm at the Akshaya Patra programme implemented in the school:
“Children enjoy their meal especially when items like Bisi Belebath, sweet pongal and vegetable pulav are a part of the menu.”
Parents usually visit the school to keep a check on their children and are very happy over the lunch being served. Some of the staff of this 22 year old initiative also feed children who need assistance. And for about 60 young toddlers who are a part of the nursery, the rice is smashed to make it easier for little ones to swallow.
The other staff, along with Gayathri feel that the Akshaya Patra meal, definitely, is serving as a catalyst to make these little ones get the nutrition they need.