Food and Education: A Solution for India

According to the famous theory ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ food is one of the most fundamental needs—if hunger is not solved, it becomes impossible for humans to reach higher standards of needs like education. This theory asks us a simple question: Will a child be able to sit in a classroom with an empty stomach?

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In an attempt to relieve children from classroom hunger, The Akshaya Patra Foundation began providing mid-day meals to government school children in India to ensure they receive both nutrition as well as education. The role of NGOs in India is increasing every day to reduce the nation’s socio-economic issues—lack of education being one of them. The Foundation believes that food for education will contribute to achieving economic stability in the long-run and will also improve every section of the society. 15 years ago, Akshaya Patra began serving mid-day meals to only 1500 school children. Today, it has progressed to more than 1.5 million children across 10 states in India making it the world’s largest (non-for-profit) run Mid-Day Meal Programme in India.

There are two ways many children in India are benefitting from Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals—a wholesome meal every day to be on the healthier side and uninterrupted education despite the financial hurdles at home. Akshaya Patra has been working along with the Government of India and State Governments to reduce the number of children exposed to severe hunger. The combined and continuous efforts with the government have resulted in tremendous opportunities for children to attend school; for it is education that projects a secure future.

For India as a developing nation, feeding the future is a mission. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2008 states that more than 200 million people in India go hungry every day making food sufficiency an urgent priority. Despite economic progress over the decade, the report still highlights the severe hunger situation in India.

India has many challenges to fight. Solutions are many. However, if the country continues to focus on two aspects – food and education, the results can be what Planning Commission of India has envisioned for 2020—achieving 100 per cent school enrolment of all children.

It is also The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mission to target 5 million children everyday by 2020 and ensuring that these children are able to concentrate better in classrooms. You can get involve by joining Akshaya Patra in raising awareness about the programme as well as contributing to the cause. All it takes is Rs. 750 to feed a school going child and you can help us too.


You can download the Akshaya Patra Mobile App to support the foundation cause. Download the app on Android and iOS store

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Serving Hope in Every Meal by Akshaya Patra

As a baby, you’d cry for food and as a school child, you would run home right after the school bell rang because your stomach groaned for food. Your mother would then serve you a little snack to help you along with your homework. After a good wholesome dinner, you would call it a day! However, this isn’t the case for many children in our country simply because their situation does not allow them to expect a meal. If you’ve been cared for, how about you donate in honour of someone who looked after you? Read on to know why your contribution can make a difference in a child’s life.

India is home to one-third of the world’s poor and millions of children in the country are away from school to earn a single meal a day. Although hunger is a prevailing condition, we believe there are sufficient resources to provide food for children in the country. The role of NGOs have expanded drastically over the years and at The Akshaya Patra Foundation, it is a promise kept to feed a wholesome meal to the underserved children across many states. With an ever-growing dedication, The Foundation has been feeding nutritious meals to more than 1.5 million children in India and aims to reach 5 million children by 2020.

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Since its inception, The Foundation’s cause has been receiving generous support from many individuals, organisations and the Government. With the growing support, we believe we can help children escape classroom hunger. Most of our beneficiaries do not miss school only because they are served nutritious mid-day meals every day. For Ashwini, who is benefitting from Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme, it is important that her studies are not interrupted due to a devastating situation in the family. In Ashwini’s life, each mid-day meal plays an important role by encouraging her to attend school on a regular basis. To know more of Ashwini’s hopes and that of other children’s whose education is assured through mid-day meals, you can visit hope stories.

Children benefiting from Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals are more than encouraged to continue their studies with a hope of achieving something big—for it is hunger that steals their right to learn. When a child has to strive for food or sleep on an empty stomach, it creates an injustice to the humanity itself. By bringing nutritious food closer to children, Akshaya Patra helps them concentrate on education because when the school bell rings, they can run to the playground instead.

You can care for our cause too!

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Our focus continues to be hunger relief among school goers through nutritious mid-day meals every day! To ensure that a child is not deprived of education due to hunger, you can contribute Rs. 750 which feeds a child for an entire year! You can also make your contribution by donating in honour of someone you admire. By this, you not only honour an individual but you also honour the cause of ensuring that children are fed.

Donate a Vehicle, Sponsor a School or a Child—Your Choice!

The Akshaya Patra Foundation was built on the idea that no child should be deprived of education due to hunger—so far there has been no turning back. When meals are cooked for millions of children, it becomes our priority to ensure that the kitchen operations are efficient and food is delivered to schools on time.

For our organisation to continue operating on a large scale, donation options have been made available on the website. From vehicle donation to sponsoring kitchen equipment or even donating in the memory of someone; you can choose how you want to support Akshaya Patra. In an effort achieve quality as well as quantity, we ensure that the kitchen equipment is sustainable and the delivery vehicles are safe for distributing hot meals every day.

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You can make a contribution of your choice and help us achieve our mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020.

Donations options are available on the website for Indian and International donors. At The Akshaya Patra Foundation, it is a promise kept to feed a wholesome meal to the underserved children across many states. With an ever-growing dedication, The Foundation has been feeding hot and nutritious meals to more than 1.5 million children in India making it the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme.

How will you benefit?

Donations to Akshaya Patra are eligible for 100% deduction under Section 35 Ac / 80 GGA of the Indian Income Tax.  Once you have made the donation, a receipt of the same and a 100 per cent Tax Exemption Certificate along with a ‘Thank you’ letter will be sent to you via courier or post. The certificate and receipt which will reach you within 10 days of making the donation can be used to avail 100% tax exemption for the respective financial year.

Akshaya Patra Serving Health and Well-Being in Schools

The major drawback in India is that children from low-income families are not entitled to proper education for lack of food. The children tend to remain hungry as their parents cannot afford them a meal. For them, a square meal is more important than acquiring education. So they accompany parents to work places. As a result, attendance has dropped down and drop-outs have increased.  It is estimated that more than 50% of Indian children drop out of the schools at primary level.  Unfortunately, India shares 34% percent of the world’s illiterate population.

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Without education a child can never progress. Understanding the link between education and nutrition, Akshaya Patra serves unlimited food for education keeping their growth requirements in mind. The meals are delivered with proper nutrition; quality, prescribed calories and safety. Adequate supply of micro nutrients as iron, folic acid, zinc, fibre, essential fatty acids, calcium, carbohydrates, protein vitamin A are supplemented through the mid-day meals. During lunch servings; roti, rice, rice khichadi, curd rice, vegetable pulao, mixed vegetable curry, sambar, dhal, rasam etc. are served. The sambar and curries contain lots of vegetables which have essential nutrients that are required for the adequate growth of children. The rice and wheat served meets adequate standards as prescribed by The Government of India.  Every meal served is warm, fresh, nutritious and ready to eat. So hunger, which is an obstacle to children’s health, education and survival are tackled by the nutritious mid-day meals.

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The mid-day meal solves two of the critical United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The first is to End Poverty and Hunger and second is to achieve Universal Education. Food for education solves the obstacle of hunger that is a hindrance for education and health.

Hunger hinders a child’s learning process. Let no child miss the opportunity to attend school for the lack of food.  Let us donate for the NGO so that it can reach out to more children.  Let us work together to serve children and end class room hunger. It takes just Rs. 750 to feed a child for a year! Every donation of Rs. 500 or above made to Akshaya Patra is eligible for 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80 G of the Indian Income Tax.

Giving Every Dream A Chance- An Akshaya Patra Initiative

Akshaya Patra serves wholesome nutritious meals to the children. The NGO for children aspires to be the mentor for these torchbearers, so that they would not be devoid of their dreams. Akshaya Patra understands that nobody is bigger than their dreams and that every dream should be given a chance. So the dream project ‘Giving Every Dream a Chance’ was propelled where dreams would become a reality and no dream would ever miss its chance.

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It is dreams, thoughts and aspirations that make a child. Every child dreams big, irrespective of their circumstances. Their dreams know no bounds. They dream of their education, ambitions, wealth and career. They aim to be an engineer, a police officer, a teacher, a nurse and what not! Not many would dream to be a chef, an astronomer or an actress. Let us meet some Akshaya Patra beneficiaries who dream to transform ingredients into delicious food, who dream of the skies that hordes the stars and who crave to recreate the world anew through acting skills in front of a favourite actor.

The project is an endeavour to make the dreams come true for the three Akshaya Patra beneficiaries who were exclusively selected out of the multitudes of children that auditioned across 40 schools in Bangalore. The NGO was proud to present the dreams of its beneficiaries Manjula, Shivu and Shekar on June 11, 2016 at Vivanta by Taj. Manjula aspired to be an actress; Shivu, an astronomer and Shekar, a chef. Recognizing their passion, Akshaya Patra assisted them with a two-month long mentorship program wherein the children were coached, groomed and guided by the experts in their concerned fields. The motive behind the project was to assure the children that their dreams are valid as well as promote their dreams to become true.

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Manjula – The Debuting Actress

The founder of Bangalore School of Speech & Drama, Dr. Zulfia Shekh mentored Manjula. The mentorship programme not only nurtured her as an aspiring actor but also brought forward the opportunity of playing the role of “Kittur Rani Chennamma” in the play staged at the end of her mentorship programme Akshaya Patra further surprised her by managing to get the veteran Akul Balaji, her role model to attend her debut performance as audience.

Watch the video of Manjula’s dream:

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Shivu – The Aspiring Astronomer

Shivu was put under the mentorship of Ms Preethi Krishnamurthy, Senior Research Fellow in Astrophysics. Under her tutoring sessions and practical guidance on astrophysics, Shivu explored the marvels of the skies and the cosmos. At the end of the mentorship program Shivu successfully created a working model of a telescope followed by a presentation regarding constellations.

Watch the video of Shivu’s dream:

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Shekar – The Aspiring Chef

Chef Ramasamy Selvaraju, executive chef at the Vivanta by Taj Hotel mentored Shekar in cooking.  He personally trained the boy in various kitchens of Vivanta which gave him a unique opportunity to work with the staff of Vivanta. Taj is even providing him financial assistance to pursue his education to fulfil his dreams. At the culmination of the mentorship programme, Shekar prepared a stylish spread that left the expert panel of judges mesmerised.

Watch the video of Shekar’s dream:

In India, the aspirations and dreams of the rich and poor are differentiated by the income of their parents. Everyone has a dream deep within but to make the dream come true is not a joke. So the NGO for children will continue to provide platforms for the talented children with diverse passions and interests in meeting their dreams. The aim of the project is to ensure continued support to children, mentorship programs to nurture talents as well as identify and nurture many more dreams across locations. The organisation aims at providing scholarship support to 100 children who dares to dream differently.

For more details on the event held at Vivanta by Taj log on to https://www.akshayapatra.org/giving-every-dream-a-chance

How Children in Telangana Benefit from Akshaya Patra

It is only by doing service to others we can find the relevance of our existence. There are children in government schools who cannot pursue education for lack of food. The children crave to remain in classrooms, play with friends, remain independent and look after their family when they grow up. But when circumstances are not favorable they tend to be drop-outs.

The literacy rate in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are lower than all India average of 69 percent. In Andhra Pradesh, the percentage of dropouts are 58.9 while 67.2 in Telangana. Most of them are from families who are engaged in farming, whose parents are daily wage labourers. During the summers, when the agricultural yield is poor, most of the parents even discontinue their children’s education.

As a successful NGO in Telangana, Akshaya Patra serves free mid-day meals to these children with support from the government. Since 2008, the non-profit organisation has been serving free mid-day meals to 54,849 children in 454 government schools. The organisation has its largest mechanised centralised kitchen in Hyderabad with state-of-the-art cooking equipment’s that are capable of cooking huge quantities of food. A variety of rice items as biriyani, puliyogare, bisibele bath, peanut rice, jeera rice, tomato rice and khichadi are served. Even savouries and fruits are also served.

Let us hear what the beneficiaries have to say of the mid-day meal in Telangana.

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Monica Devi, a 15-year old girl studying in Zilla Parishad High School, who belongs to a broken family says, “I am very fond of the meal provided by Akshaya Patra and potato-brinjal curry is my all-time favourite.”  “Just before lunch, my friends and I can’t stop thinking about the meal,” she adds.

Read more about Monica at: This Akshaya Patra Beneficiary is a True Victor

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Venu, a 5th standard student whose parents are daily wage earners says, “My favourite is the aloo biryani served on every Thursday.” “My friends and I make sure we don’t miss school on Thursday because of the biryani,” adds Venu.

Read more about Venu at: Exploring more with a language

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Soujanya, an 8th standard beneficiary is a class topper whose parents are daily-wage labourers. She says, “I’m lucky to have the Akshaya Patra meals. It is nutritious and tasty. It helps me concentrate in class” She further adds, “I am fond of the fruits and loves the biryani served.”

Read more about Soujanya at: Perfect with Numbers

Teachers opine that despite the sporadic dropout rate, the enrolment rate has increased by 2%. Most of the students are regular as they are served free nutritious mid-day meals Thus the non-profit organisation not only serves food but also supports education.

For many children in government schools, the mid-day meal is an important aspect of their daily lives. Let us serve unlimited food for education.  It takes Rs. 750 to feed a child for a year! Donations of Rs. 500 or above are considered as tax deductible donations. (Every donation of Rs. 500 or above to Akshaya Patra is eligible for 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax.

Mid-Day Meal and Its Secrets

There was a time when the school premises were bereft of the shrillness and joyful din of children, when classrooms were devoid of students, when children sat with heads bowed down in pangs of hunger, when children craved to have a square meal and accompanied parents to work. It was a time when attendance was low and drop-outs were more.

Most of the children in government schools hail from poor backgrounds whose parents are daily wage workers and cannot afford one proper meal a day.  The parents are not ready to send their children to schools as they wanted them to earn and have food at least a day. The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s vision ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ has brought about a significant role in the future of children in government schools. The NGO implements the mid-day meal programme in collaboration with the Central Government and various State Governments.

After the commencement of the programme, the pall of despair in classrooms has changed to hopes of aspiration and dreams. The ambience of the school has come back where the school premises are filled with the high-pitched voices of students reciting poems, cheerful din of excitement and gleam, the teachers teaching with a sense of decorum paused by a high sound of scolding once in a while.

Let us hear from the children what they have to say of the secret impact of the mid-day meal scheme.

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Badal – Akshaya Patra Beneficiary

Badal whose father is a mason and mother a cook is able to attend school regularly after the commencement of mid-day meals. He says, “I like all food items, and kheer is my favourite.” He opines “the Mid-day meal programme is good and it should be there as it helps children from hunger.”

Know more about Badal at: Badal Behara- The Young Yoga Enthusiast!

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Shrisha – Akshaya Patra Beneficiary

AP.Shrisha, the class topper of Namma Kiriya Prathamika Shalley School, says “Akshaya Patra’s food is very tasty and it increases my concentration and helps me remain active in class.”

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Darshan – Akshaya Patra Beneficiary

Darshan, whose father is a bus driver and mother a homemaker has been an Akshaya Patra beneficiary since 2008. He says “I like rice and sambar served by Akshaya Patra.” He further says “my personal favourite is Bisibelebath served on Saturdays.” “The foods help me to concentrate in class”, he adds.

Know more about Darshan at: Darshan: A True Patriot in the making

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Harsha – Akshaya Patra Beneficiary

Harsha, whose father is a carpenter, says with enthusiasm that he is able to attend class as hunger is no more obstructing his level of concentration. He recites the full menu during the week and says that there is not one day he hasn’t liked the meal. “I love the mid-day meals served by Akshaya Patra especially the pulao.”  Every day my concentration in class is extended because of this nutritious meal,” he adds.

Know more about Harsha at: Harsha never misses a mid-day meal

We can see that mid-day meal scheme have solved multiple issues as hunger, poverty, illiteracy, child-labour and malnutrition among children. Children are eager to come to schools so that they get a nutritious meal, which gives them the energy to concentrate and learn. It has reduced the dropout rates with a reasonable increase in attendance. Teachers opine that there was a time when children went home for lunch and would not return to school. They now notice that afternoon attendance is almost as good as morning attendance. Parents who cannot afford to serve a proper meal to their children are more than happy with the assurance of one free wholesome meal a day for their children.

So let us donate to the NGO so that it can reach out to more children.  Let us work together to serve children and end class room hunger. Let us make others aware of the need to provide food for education. It takes just Rs. 750 to feed a child for a year! Every donation of Rs. 500 or above made to Akshaya Patra is eligible for 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80 G of the Indian Income Tax.