Overseeing a massive undertaking


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

"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

"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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Food and Education

‘The duty of serving children is noble’


We serve 1.3 million children everyday with freshly cooked food as a secular, non-governmental organisation (NGO) helping children. That means employing hundreds of people throughout the country and empowering scores of women. At the corner stone of this colossal effort, spearheading the Foundation on its ambitious mission to serve 5 million children by 2020, is missionary zeal. Missionaries’ unending dedication has been instrumental in transforming Akshaya Patra from a small pilot program to one of the largest non-profits in the world, implementing one of the biggest school lunch programs in history.

Nandan Acharya Dasa, who oversees day to day operations of Akshaya Patra’s Mangalore kitchen, knows well the kind of dedication and effort employees put in to serve children. Before a cold storage unit was installed in the kitchen, he says, they used to stay up into late hours of the night cutting vegetables in an effort to keep them as fresh as possible before cooking.

“Because,” he says, “Mangalore weather is very humid. They would not remain fresh for long if they were cut and left outside. Freshness of produce affects taste. We have to make sure that the food is as tasty as possible. Children will make out the difference very soon.”

On a tour of the premises, he explains, how kitchen employees used to lift heavy, fully packed steel containers of food, carrying them from the kitchen to waiting food vans before they had a conveyor belt installed in the system.

A newly acquired rice cleaning machine has helped clean rice more efficiently and faster. Through all the challenges they have faced, however, they have kept one thing in mind, says Nandan Acharya Dasa – “The duty of serving hungry children is a very noble one, that’s what we always try to remember”.

*As of April 2011

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