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Akshaya Patra, the saviour of many lives

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Everyone in need of help often wait for miracles to happen but Jayalakshmi, who hails from a remote part of Vishakhapatnam, goes to the nearby AnganwAkshaya Patra, the saviour of many livesadi to get her share of, what she calls, marvel – a hope that shines brightly at her in the form of the Akshaya Patra meals supplied at the Anganwadi. She goes there everyday with her 10-month-old toddler to eat freshly cooked, nutritious and a hearty meal which on a few bad days is the only option she has to fill her stomach. The meal that she savors is a part of the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mid-day meal programme for pregnant women and lactating mothers at Government-run Anganwadis.

Jayalakshmi’s family ponders below the breadline. Her husband Mallapparaju works at a construction site and earns less than a few hundreds every week. Until a few years ago, Jayalakshmi accompanied Mallapparaju at work so that the family could afford at least one complete meal a day. But now the lactating mother has to resort to some menial job as domestic help to add a few more pennies to the pound her husband earns. Her elder daughter Vishala, who is 4 years old, goes to the same Government-run kindergarten where she is being prepared to step into school.

Like they say, “the inevitable consequence of poverty is dependence”. Jayalakshmi sees reality in this thought as she is completely aware of her and her family’s dependence on the Akshaya Patra meal every day. She knows what is best for her children and for herself, which is within reach and in plenty. She trusts the goodness in each Akshaya Patra meal and the benefit it bears on her family. For Jayalakshmi the availability of a humble meal is certainly a miracle making its way everyday into her life.

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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
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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 with the actual cooking process, where his work involves rice cleaning, supervising steaming cauldrons of boiling rice and vegetable preparation, Narayana is busy loading steel containers packed with hot meals into waiting food vans. Feedback taken from schools every day tells him exactly how many containers need to be packed in each vehicle.

An hour later and he has changed from the rich blue kitchen uniform to the khaki brown outfit of a driver. All the food vans are neatly packed and ready for delivery.

There are five routes covering all the schools that Akshaya Patra reaches out to in Mysore.* Each one comprises of approximately 14 to 15 schools. The route that Narayana will drive has 14 schools. “We’ve mapped out the schools for each route. The steel containers are packed in the order that the schools are located on a route,” he explains.

On the lid of every container is the route number itself, followed by each school’s assigned number for the route. This numbering system makes it easier for them to keep track of every school’s requirements.

“We always know exactly how much food each school asked for. Once we make the delivery, we also ask the teachers what they may need for the following day. This feedback is then given to the supervisors so that there is never any shortage at any school.”

*As of February 2011

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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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