Not many things bring me out of bed at 5am. But when I heard about the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s operations, I just had to check it out for myself. So on a rainy August morning, two colleagues and myself headed to their centralized kitchen in Bangalore.
The organisation runs its operations through two kitchen models: Centralized Kitchens, which are suitable for urban and semi-urban locations, are mostly mechanized and employ innovative technology to cook meals for thousands of children within few hours. Decentralized Kitchens are set-up in areas that are not easily accessible and employ women of that particular area for the cooking process.
The photos below serve as a great visual explanation of the process. But before you do scroll down to be amazed, here are some amazing facts about the organisation:
– Akshaya Patra currently operates in 19 locations across 9 states of India; making it the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Program. It has provided over a billion meals till date.
– Their cleanliness and hygiene levels are so high that they have received the ISO2200 rating for the same. Infact, the food is not touched until it reaches the kids.
– They currently feed 1.3 million children everyday. Their mission is to reach 5 million children by 2020.
– Rs. 4.5 is the national average cost of a meal.
– Every study conducted by external agencies, from A.C. Nielsen to the Harvard Business School, have confirmed that their program has positive impact on enrollment and attendance.
– Theirs is the only NGO to be conferred the ICAI Gold Shield Award for the 5th consecutive year. Further, they competed against for-profit organizations for the same. This is the highest award given by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
For those not familiar with Hindu mythology, Akshayapatra means inexhaustible vessel. Featuring in the Mahabharata, it was a wonderful vessel given to Yudhishthira by the Lord Surya, which held a never-failing supply of food to the Pandavas every day.
When the Pandavas began their exile in the forest, Yudhishtra was dejected at his inability to feed the holy sages and others who accompanied him. At this, Dhaumya, the priest of the Pandavas, counselled him to pray to Lord Surya. Pleased with Yudhishtira’s prayers, Lord Surya blessed him with the Akshaya Patra, a vessel that would give unlimited food every day till Draupadi finished eating.