According to the ‘Telangana Socio-Economic Outlook 2018’, there is a substantial discrepancy in literacy rate across the state. While Hyderabad fairs significantly with 83.2%, Jogulamba Gadwal district is struggling with 49.9% literacy rate. It has been reported that of the total 31 districts, 26 districts have literacy rates below the State average of 66.54%. In order to bring the low scoring districts at par with the high scoring districts, the government is putting in lot of efforts. In support of the government’s effort, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in Hyderabad began its mid-day meal service in the state in 2008.
Purpose of mid-day meal programme
On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate stating, “We direct the State Governments/Union Territories to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary School with a prepared mid-day meal.” Through this scheme it was intended to:
- avoid classroom hunger
- increase school enrolment
- increase school attendance
- improve socialisation among castes
- address malnutrition
- empower women through employment
Headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, Akshaya Patra wanted to give these advantages of mid-day meal scheme to the children of India. Hence, after its inception in 2000, the NGO started expanding its reach across the country. The Foundation made its foray to Telangana by establishing its first kitchen in Hyderabad in 2008. Currently, this NGO is feeding a total of 91,675 children in 805 government schools across the state.
Akshaya Patra Kitchens in Telangana
Beginning its journey in 2008, today Akshaya Patra is providing mid-day meal in Telangana from its three centralised kitchens located in Hyderabad, Narsingi, and Kothagudem. Recently, the Foundation inaugurated its fourth kitchen in Kandi and it is the NGO’s largest one-of-a-kind hi-tech mega kitchens. Equipped to feed 1-lakh children per day, this kitchen was built in partnership with the Infosys Foundation.
With a grant of INR 18.50 crore, Infosys Foundation funded the entire construction cost of this kitchen. Alike all Akshaya Patra kitchens, the Telangana kitchens strictly adhere to hygiene and cleanliness standards in all its kitchen processes too. To improve productivity and efficiency of operational processes, Kaizen, Continuous Improvement Projects and Six Sigma methodologies are a part of a Telangana’s kitchen operations.
The kitchens of Telangana feature all the aspects of centralised kitchens such as cauldrons, trolleys, rice chutes, grinding machines, RO plants, and the like. Each of the kitchens has dedicated customised delivery vehicles to transport cooked meals to all beneficiary schools. The NGO in Hyderabad makes use of biogas briquettes and solar power as form of fuel and energy to operate the kitchen.
Menu of Telangana kitchens
Akshaya Patra has designed its meal menu to suit the local taste so that children enjoy their meal to the utmost. In line with the same, some of the menu items served to children in Telangana are: rice, lemon rice, sambar (a mixed vegetable and lentil curry), sundal (a South Indian dish, a dry legume-lentil preparation spiced, tempered, along with fresh coconut), pappu (a type of South Indian lentil curry), tomato pappu, vegetable biryani (a popular rice dish), and vegetable korma (an Indian dish made with vegetables and yogurt)
Besides providing mid-day meal, the Hyderabad kitchen is also involved in various socio-developmental initiatives to ensure betterment of the beneficiaries and the society. Some of the initiatives are:
- Conducting awareness programmes
- Life skills programme
- Scholarship programme
- Anganwadi Feeding
- Feeding expecting and lactating mothers
As a mid-day meal NGO, Akshaya Patra wants to multiply its reach so that many more children receive the advantages of mid-day meal scheme. For this, the NGO operates in a Public-Private Partnership model, and while it is receiving aid from government, it also requires support and involvement of the civil society. Partake in the Foundation’s endeavour of providing ‘unlimited food for education’. Choose to donate to charity by either contributing funds online, sponsoring a school for a year or by donating a meal delivery vehicle. Your one contribution can make a huge difference in a child’s life. And, did you know that you can feed a child for the entire year with just Rs. 950!