We are all children of the Earth and we return to her when our time on the planet is up. To honour all that the Earth gives us and to support the cause of environmental protection, Earth Day is celebrated all over the world on April 22 every year. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a top NGO in India, which operates the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Programme to benefit school children in the country, too is committed to the cause of environmental protection. It has undertaken many initiatives to produce its meals in the most sustainable, energy-efficient manner possible.
Three of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens that feed the children are equipped with biogas plants – the Vadodara kitchen in Gujarat and the Vasanthapura and Ballari kitchens in Karnataka. These are all ISO-certified kitchens and the kitchen at Vasanthapura also has a solar plant. The biogas plants use the waste generated during the preprocessing of vegetables prior to food preparation and leftover from the schools if any. A single biogas plant at the Akshaya Patra kitchens uses an average of 200 kg of mixed vegetable waste per day, while the food returns used amount to 500 kg a day. An average of 65.7m3 per day and the biogas used in place of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) amounts to an average of 55m3 per day. Meanwhile, the LPG equivalent generated by the biogas plant amounts to 20-23 kg per day.
The Vasanthapura kitchen in Bengaluru also has a solar plant that generates 12kw electricity per day. The electricity thus generated is used for lighting up the building and all the other single-phase power applications. Akshaya Patra’s upcoming kitchens too have been designed in such a way that they can accommodate solar panels and plans are underway to equip existing ones with them too. The Foundation also seriously undertakes water conservation efforts. Water consumption in its kitchens is reduced with the help of vegetable washing machines, rice washers, steam cooking, high-pressure jets for equipment and vehicle cleaning, vessel cleaning machines and vessel cleaning showers with tanks.
Akshaya Patra, as one of the world’s top NGOs conducts training and awareness programmes for its employees to raise awareness about water management and conservation. Wastewater generated in its kitchens is recycled. This recycled water is reused for gardening. The kitchens, besides using renewable energy such as solar energy and biogas, also harvest rainwater.
Akshaya Patra feeds over 1.6 million children in 13,577 schools in 11 states of India and strives to ensure that it does so in the most sustainable manner possible. To contribute to the Foundation’s cause of ‘food for education’, donate to charity now.