The world’s largest NGO-run school mid-day meal program of The Akshaya Patra Foundation aims to feed 5 million children by 2020
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a 19-year-old not-for-profit, currently providing mid-day meals to more than 1.76 million children everyday. It is reaching out to these children in government run schools in 42 locations across 12 states of India. The backbone of the world famous mid-day meal program is their world famous kitchens. Read below to know what’s so unique about them.
How famous are the Akshaya Patra kitchens?
Many great personalities including APJ Abdul Kalam have shown their support to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. During his visit to the Bangalore kitchen in 2003, he not only served the mid-day meals to the children, but also enjoyed a meal with them. Known for his deep love and compassion for the little ones, Dr. Kalam talked about the importance of the mid-day meals and education in India. He also expressed his happiness saying “This is really a very important mission and I congratulate Akshaya Patra for the excellent work they have done.”
In 2016, the Hubballi kitchen of the foundation happily received Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate & Founder of Grameen Bank. Other great visitors were 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet and Gulam Ali, Pakistani Ghazal singer. In 2014, when former President of the US, Bill Clinton visited The Akshaya Patra Foundation in Jaipur, he was awed by the functioning of the roti maker machine.
Their kitchens have also caught fancies of the National Geographic channel. It’s series on mega kitchens in India, covered the Hubballi kitchen which prepares over 150,000 meals in less than 5 hours.
Why are they famous?
The DNA of the super efficient kitchens of the Akshaya Patra Foundation is the technology. The kitchens are known for their efficiency and effectiveness which are feeding millions of children around India by achieving economies of scale. 1,200 liters of lentils and 40,000 rotis are a matter of two hours for them. Not surprisingly, these fully automated kitchens can prepare 185,000 meals in less than 5 hours.
The mind-boggling operations in their Hubballi kitchen starts at 4am. Workers begin by cleaning 15 tonnes of rice, 4 tonnes of lentils and 9 tones of vegetables. And voila! By 8 a.m, hot .meals are ready to be loaded into the vans which go to over 1,000 schools in a 100km radius.
The centralized kitchen facilities are designed and engineered to ensure maximum quality and minimize cost, time and labor. They also aim to minimize human handling of food with mechanized high-speed cutting of vegetables and conveyor belts for easy transportation. To accelerates the cooking process and retain nutrients, steam is used as a source of cooking which is not only cost-effective but also clean. Six of the Akshaya Patra kitchens are also certified as a Food Safety Management System ISO.
Economics behind super efficient kitchens
One meal costs Rs.10, of which about Rs.6 is given by the state and the central government. The kitchens also procure the grain on the subsidised rate which further reduces the overall cost. The remaining amount is raised through donors from both India and abroad who believe in the noble cause of feeding the poor children. All of this helps to keep costs down despite rising inflation.
Why are you needed?
The vision of the Akshaya Patra is: No child in India shall be deprived of an education because of hunger. Started feeding 1500 children everyday in Bangalore in June 2000, today it is providing hot cooked meals to 1.76 million children and aims to reach out to 5 million children by 2020. It has come a long way but is also keenly aware that it still has much more to cover. Your support is important. Your small amount of monthly donation on GiveIndia can help Akshaya Patra to move an inch closer to their goal and will provide wholesome meal to a poor child everyday to one more poor child.