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Food and Education

Kitchen Activities of Bellary

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“When we went to buy a vehicle to make commuting for our staff easier and the owner of the vehicle realised we were from Akshaya Patra,” says Mr. Subramanyam, “he refused to take any money from us.” Such good will and kindness, he adds, stems from the fact that we serve nearly 1.3* lakh (130,000) children in Bellary district everyday without fail. Not only that, but we have also helped provide relief for thousands of flood victims in the area.

How is the logistics of distributing and preparing exactly the right amount of food for so many children managed? Mr. Subramanyam, who handles those logistics, among many others, expands on the process:

“All of the nearly 575 schools are mapped into approximately 21 routes. Each route has a specific name and number of schools. We have one food van for each route, and the van is accompanied by a route supervisor,” he says. These route supervisors gather information on the ground from each school, including what the projected attendance rate might be for the following day. From this raw data, charts are prepared in the evening to determine the amount of food that needs to be packed into each van for the following day. The distribution supervisor then collates the data from all routes and gives the information to the head of production who will then know exactly how much food to prepare for the following day.

A meeting is held for procuring vegetables every week, says Mr. Subramanyam and fresh produce is brought in once every two days from surrounding districts such as Belgaum. “There aren’t enough vegetables in Bellary alone to meet our requirements,” adds Mr. Subramanyam. The Bellary kitchen requires around 4.5 tonnes of vegetables each day.

Mr. Subramanyam, who previously worked in the Foundation’s Hubli kitchen before coming to Bellary, has been a part of Akshaya Patra’s family for nearly four years. So thorough is he in his approach, that he has analysed everything from the trends of school attendance rates to the patterns of food consumption for each month. But he attributes the success and smooth running of the program to the people that make up Akshaya Patra.

“It all happens through good work and co-ordination of everyone involved,” he says.

*As on April 2011

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Effluent Treatment Plant in Hubli

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An appealing garden graces the Hubli kitchen campus, adding a serene quality to the sleek modern architecture of the building. Immaculately maintained, it is a testament to Akshaya Patra's 'go green' efforts in Hubli, where
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Lunch with Kenny & Erica Jones

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It is mid-noon on a warm Thursday and a blue bus can be seen winding its way through ceaseless Bangalore city traffic to Tasker Town, a bustling area in the heart of the metropolitan. The bus comes to a stop outside the colonial style building of Govt. Telugu High School as children rush out into the commotion of the city to greet its arrival. Two men, dressed in blue, jump out to unload its eagerly awaited contents: glistening steel containers filled with delicious rice and sambar, the Southern Indian staple food.

Everyday, at around 12 o’clock, Akshaya Patra’s blue bus arrives at the school delivering freshly cooked food for its more than 160 students. Everyday, it is greeted with the same enthusiastic smiles.

For Kenny and Erica Jones, however, this no everyday experience. Though the couple from America has travelled the world for years and been living in India for nearly 15 months now, they have never witnessed anything like this before. “It’s something else to see it in action,” says Erica, who came to fully understand Akshaya Patra’s work at a Search Marketing Summit held by the children’s non-profit, where industry leaders from around the world met to discuss the latest techniques and trends in internet marketing. Erica, one of the guest speakers at the Summit, with special expertise in video marketing, says she was amazed by the scale of the Foundation’s operations. “You feed lunch to more than 1.2 million hungry children around India. And I can’t believe you do it everyday!” she adds.

Kenny, who hosts the wildly popular ‘On Air with Kenny Jones’ morning show on Radio Indigo 91.9 FM, one of the leading English radio stations in the country, is surprised at how little it takes to actually feed a child for year. “Is it just US $11.50 did you say to sponsor a child for a year? Wow, that’s incredible,” he says.

As 12:30 approaches, a palpable restlessness permeates the classrooms. Outside, selected 7th standard students, the eldest in the school, are preparing for lunch time. They set the containers of rice, sambar and curd on a wooden bench in the cool shade of a tree in the school yard. They rinse the serving spoons and plates in preparation for meal time.

The lunch bell rings as students file outside in neat rows under the strict supervision of their Headmistress, Ms. Kusum.

mysore_kenny&erica02 “Many of the children come here from very distant areas in the city and they leave home early morning, a lot of times without any breakfast,” she says, “for them, this food is very essential. Sometimes both parents will be working and they don’t have time to prepare a meal in the morning. There is one boy here who is being raised by a single parent. If his mother falls ill, then it becomes very difficult for him to eat food. Who will cook? The average salary she may get for a month is around Rs. 1000, but in Bangalore it costs at least around Rs. 100 for a family to eat for a day. It becomes very difficult for people to make ends meet.”

However, the overall change has been positive over the years, says the headmistress. More children are attending school regularly and fewer are dropping out. “There are many opportunities these days that were not there before. To tell you the truth, these children are very bright and talented. They just need to be guided and helped in the right direction. That’s where schemes like the mid-day meal program are very helpful,” she adds.

The mid-day meal program was initiated by all State Governments of India in response to an order from the nation’s Supreme Court in November of 2001, which mandated that children in all government and government-aided primary schools across the country be provided with freshly cooked nutrition meals at lunch time. Today there are over 121 million children around the nation who are benefitting from the scheme, making it by far the largest such nutrition program in the world. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which is in a public-private partnership with 8 State Governments to provide children with healthy, freshly cooked meals, directly impacts 1.2 million of them. The Foundation is currently in the 11th year of program implementation and has a mission to reach out to 5 million children by 2020. A quiet settles in the school yard as the students sit down to their mid-day meal. For these children at Govt. Telugu High School, the food provided means more than just a full stomach. It means they can concentrate on their afternoon classes free from the clutches of hunger; that even if they skipped breakfast, they can rest assured that at least in school, they will get one full meal.

For Kenny and Erica, it is another memorable experience on their travels around the world that they will always remember. “It is wonderful to see such good work,” says Erica.

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Vice-Chairman to speak at TIDES Summit

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<p><img style="float: left; margin: 10px; border: 0px;" src="https://www.akshayapatra.org/sites/default/files/images/tides-2011-logo-beige.JPG" border="0" alt="TIDES" title="TIDES" /> The Vice-chairman of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa will be one of the speakers at the <a href="http://tidescoimbatore.com/index.html">TIDES leadership summit</a> conducted
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Thank you Olive

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<p><a href="http://www.olivebarandkitchen.com/" ><img style="float: left; margin: 10px; border: 0px;" src="https://www.akshayapatra.org/sites/default/files/images/olive_img.JPG" border="0" alt="Thank you Olive" title="Olive" /></a> Olive is an award winning chain of specialty restaurants with presence in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. It has found
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CISCO Employees Visit Akshaya Patra Kitchen

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<p style="text-align: justify;"><img style="float: left; margin: 10px; border: 0px;" src="https://www.akshayapatra.org/sites/default/files/images/Vasanthapura_img1.jpg" title="CISCO Employees Visit Akshaya Patra" border="0" alt="The Akshaya Patra Foundation"  /> A simple building on a small hillock at Vasanthapura belies ten years of working
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