The Blue Bus- the carrier of happiness

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The Blue Bus …the only one of its kind vehicle with which people identifies The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The Blue bus travels to 7,110 schools and helps us reach out to 11, 98,206 children across India with the hot, nutritious and tasty food inside. It is the bus of hope for the million of hungry children who are even denied of their basic needs otherwise.

The Bus is an integral part of the success story of Akshaya Patra school meal program today. The vehicle is heat insulated to ensure that the food remains hot when it is delivered to the schools. Each vehicle can cater to about 3,000 to 5,000 children. Cooked food is packed into stainless steel containers and loaded into these custom- built vehicles, which have racks to store the containers in an orderly manner.

Using a fleet of vehicles, food is transported to the schools within a 50 km radius of the kitchen. Security personnel escort each vehicle to ensure safe delivery of meals to the schools. The vehicles drop off the meals in the schools (about 20 to 25 schools per vehicle) and on their return trip pick up empty containers. The mapping of the schools to the vehicles has also been done efficiently so that food is delivered on time, six days of the week, without fail. The Blue Bus takes equal care in serving the food as our mother does at home.

We dream of the day when this Blue Bus reaches each and every hungry child in every corner of our country.

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The role of NGOs

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Plush luxury juxtaposed with abject poverty, rich elegance surrounded by a need for bare human necessity.

That is contradiction of India today. Poised to become a global superpower, with a 7 % annual growth rate (one of the highest in the world), it has a rapidly expanding economy that will create a projected 200 million jobs in the next 20 yrs.

Yet the lack of basic facilities facing millions of the nation’s people can hardly be ignored. Rural India is home to some of the poorest people in the globe.

Swamped by myriad complex problems, the government has used unique strategies to find solutions. The private-public partnership (PPP) which the government encourages is one such solution.

In this partnership state governments of the country work with private, non-profit organizations such as Akshaya Patra, to implement their various schemes. For the Government this means a change in emphasis from directly delivering services to management and co-ordination, a shift that allows them to reduce their load, while at the same time ensuring that the guidelines of their schemes are met.

This shift also works in favour of the beneficiaries. A private-public partnership combines the best of both worlds in brining together the unique skills and expertise of the private sector to the advantage and larger good of the public.

One of the most successful examples of a PPP can be found in The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Akshaya Patra works in collaboration with various State Governments of India to provide nearly 1.2 million school going children across the country with freshly cooked nutritious meals.

State of the art technology combined with new and exciting innovations from the private sector have helped the Foundation achieve remarkabale results. From making 40 000 rotis an hour to cooking 6 tonnes of rice in just 30 minutes, Akshaya Patra’s centralized kitchens are so well known that they are now a case study at Harvard Business School.

All this could only have been possible with the combined efforts of society at large. The Foundation believes that change is only effective when every citizen of this country accepts their social responsibility.

In a country that is home to nearly 44% of the world’s malnourished children, the mid-day meal scheme has proved very effective in not only increasing the health of children, but also in encouraging them to return to school. It has been shown that in some places where Akshaya Patra is conducting the program, attendance and enrolment of students has increased by as much as 40%.

This private-public partnership is particularly successful because it acts as an interface between the private and public sector to bring about lasting change. In the 10 years of its existence, Akshaya Patra has managed to leverage the technology and resources of the private sector to help children in need.

The government’s strategy in encouraging these partnerships has proved very effective. Today, Cooked Mid-day Meal (CMDM) scheme is the largest of its kind in the world, with nearly 120 million children across India who benefit from the program.

In what is known as one of the greatest success stories of India, this unique strategy stands as testimony to what can be done with the collaboration of society at large.

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