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It’s all about tackling hunger on a sunny afternoon

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A thought similar to this would run across anyone’s mind when they see a horde of young children, in their blue uniforms, run with their plates to the lunch area in the Government Higher primary school in Thalaghata, Bangalore. The impatience they exuded implied that they were all hungry. The importance of a freshly-cooked, nutritious meal served in a school, attended mostly by underprivileged children, can be derived by just visualizing the eagerness in which the children waited to fill their plates, eventually their stomachs.

“I love coming to school because I enjoy eating lunch here” said Bharath Kumar, a fifth grade student, as he relished his treat of rice with sambhar. Many other children shared a similar voice. “I come to school everyday because I don’t have to stay hungry till dinner” said 14-year-old Mallikarjuna, while he helped the school staff in serving sambhar to his other fellow students. Mallikarjuna’s mother, who works as a construction labourer after his father’s death, barely manages to fend for a single meal for the family.

The 8th grade student’s routine in school has given him a chance to aspire for a better future for him and his family.

Several such examples can be found appraising the success of the Government’s mid-day meal programme. The enthusiasm, realization and contentment with which children eat the Akshaya Patra meal complement the benefits and the success of the programme.

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Overseeing a massive undertaking

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Early morning 6 o’clock and Akshaya Patra’s Mysore kitchen is bustling with activity. Having started more than an hour ago, it is in full swing with teams of employees working harmoniously in the various responsibilities assigned. Some supervise steaming cauldrons capable of cooking 100kgs of rice each. Others focus on masala preparations near a massive stone grinder whirling at steady speed where more than 60 coconuts are grated each day for seasoning. Yet others are involved in measuring out the quantities of ghee, oil and other ingredients needed for cooking.

Assigning those responsibilities and superintending the overall operations is Srikanth S. K. He has been working with the Foundation for nearly 1 ½ years and handles the day to day processes of the kitchen.

“We use between 200 to 300 kgs of rice, 230 kgs of dal and around 650 to 700 kgs of vegetables everyday,” says Srikanth. He goes on to explain how each school is visited approximately once in two months, and the feedback collected is used to make adjustments to the cooking process. “Today, we’re making tomato bath*. We received feedback that the children wanted something different to taste,” he adds, carefully watching to ensure that exactly 4.5 kgs of ghee and 8 litres of oil are measured out in equal quantities for each cauldron.

“It is great satisfaction to know that the work I do is helping children,” he says.

*Tomato bath is a rice preparation with a strong flavouring of tomato, enhanced with spices and cooked with vegetables.

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Doing what needs to be done

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"We do all the work that needs to be taken care of," says Narayana Murthy of his responsibilities in the kitchen. "Everyone supports everyone else and we do what needs to be done." After helping
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Running a clean, healthy workplace

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"No matter what happens, we have to deliver food to all schools on time. No matter what," says Someshekara. Though it is no easy task serving freshly cooked food to more than 17,000* children everyday,
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