When was mid-day meal started by Akshaya Patra?

One firm vision – ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’… just 1 kitchen to cook meals for 1,500 children… began the journey called Akshaya Patra!

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a non-profit organisation in India. In partnership with the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, and various State Governments, Akshaya Patra implements the Mid-Day Meal Scheme across the country. It was established in 2000 and is headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Akshaya Patra serving children 2000

Akshaya Patra then…

Once the idea of providing school lunch was conceptualised, Venu Vadana Gopal Dasa conducted a detailed research to choose the schools in need of the meals. Reminiscing the past, he says, “I went to explore the surrounding areas in Bengaluru and found that the schools in the outskirts and rural areas were in maximum need of a school Mid-Day Meal Programme. I visited Government schools in areas like Peenya, Chikkabidarakalu and Makali and was moved by the plight of the kids there. We then approached these schools and served the first meals on 3 June 2000 to a total of 1,500 children in five Government schools.”

Over a period, the impact of this initiative was witnessed in the form of increased enrolment, regularity in attendance, improved health, and better concentration during class hours. The overwhelming response from the schools brought to fore the need for the Mid-Day Meal Programme, leading Akshaya Patra to expand its service to more schools.

Initial hurdles…

The initial journey for this non-profit organisation in India wasn’t a smooth sail. The main concern was lack of food packing vessels and vehicles to transport the cooked meals. Philanthropists Mr Mohandas Pai stepped in by donating the first vehicle to transport food to the schools and Mr Abhay Jain promised to get more support in the form of donors to contribute for the programme.

A welcome progress…

As Akshaya Patra was already providing food for education through its school meal programme, it was called to give testimony for verifying the efficacy of providing cooked meals to schools. Following this, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate on 28 November 2001 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.” This was a welcome progression for Akshaya Patra and the Foundation partnered with the Central Government and various State Governments to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in a public-private partnership model.

Akshaya Patra now…

A journey that began by nourishing 1,500 children in one location has today grown to becoming a movement with 17,65,597 children in 45 locations across 12 states in India. The partnership with the Government under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme and constant support from well-wishers and donors helped Akshaya Patra to expand the food for education programme during the course of 18 years. It also aided the non-profit organisation in India to initiate several child-centric programmes such as Anganwadi feeding, scholarship, talent development, along with supporting the Foundation’s disaster relief feeding service.

Akshaya Patra in future…

With the mission to nourish 50 lakh children in India by 2025, Akshaya Patra is moving forward strategically and sustainably. The Foundation is certain that with concerted effort from the Government, the policy-makers, corporates and businesses, and the civil society, we will be able to create generations of healthy, educated, and resourceful citizens; empowering them to take on the mission called Prosperous India.

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Akshaya Patra’s work in Assam and Andhra Pradesh

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a non-profit organisation in India has been supporting education by providing nutritious and tasty school lunch to children of Government schools and Government-aided schools since its establishment in 2000.

 

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  • Akshaya Patra is one of the oldest implementors of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
  • Initially, it provided food to children of just five schools in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • Today, it is operational across India.
  • Akshaya Patra has received ICAI Gold Shield Award for excellence in financial reporting for consecutively seven years and has been inducted to ICAI’s Hall of Fame. It is the only NGO in the 70 years history of ICAI to have won this distinction.

 

Akshaya Patra operates centralised kitchens in 43 locations and decentralised kitchens in two locations. It has a well-managed logistics with dedicated fleet of customised meal delivery vehicles for each location. In order to ensure children consume their meals readily and happily, this non-profit organisation has designed location-specific menus by keeping intact the recommended nutritional levels. The menu is also cyclical in nature so that each day children receive different items as part of their school meal.

Below is a quick overview of Akshaya Patra’s service in Assam and Andhra Pradesh.

tapf kitchens assam and andhara pradesh

What do beneficiaries say?

The mid-day meals act as an incentive for parents to send their children to school and it adds hope in lakhs of children that their ambitions and dreams are achievable. As an NGO in Assam, this is how Akshaya Patra upkeeps the right to nutrition and education:

  • “Mid-day meals are very important. The mid-day meal served in the school is a relief for the family. At home, it’s mostly rice, dalor pitha (a type of local bread made of rice flour). Vegetables or lentils are not on the family’s menu every day. I enjoy my school lunch especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays when we get kheer, khichdi, and vegetable pulao – a delicacy which is rarely cooked at home.” Mrinmay Malakar.
  • Parvati hails from a challenging background and has the complete support of her mother with regards to her education. She aspires to be a Police Officer. Parvati’s mother opines that education will help her daughter succeed in life and also aid in leading a better life than the current one. The fact that Parvati gets mid-day meal at school comes by as a great relief for the mother.

As an NGO in Andhra Pradesh, this is how Akshaya Patra nurtures dreams:

  • Narsimha Raju says, “If I concentrate on one particular sport, I will excel in that sport only. But, if I concentrate on different sports and education, it will help me become a teacher and produce good sportsmen for our school and the country.”
  • Lalita says, “Due to corruption, people who are in need of the several government schemes are not able to avail the benefits. I want to become a District Collector and make my state corruption-free and ensure that people get the benefits of various schemes.”

Akshaya Patra kitchen in Assam and Andhra Pradesh

You can do wonders with just Rs. 1,100!

Yes, with just Rs. 1,100, you can transform the lives of lakhs of children across India. Your generous contribution to Akshaya Patra, one of the pioneer mid-day meal non-profit organisation in India will nourish, nurture and empower children into resourceful and responsible citizens. Support Akshaya Patra. Support Indian children.

Quality food produced through Six-sigma methodology at Akshaya Patra

What makes Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Programme (MDMP) world’s largest serving wholesome lunch? Is it the numbers? Over 1.6 million children. Or is it the demographic? 13,636 schools across 12 states in India. What truly makes MDMP, run by a non-profit organisation, large is that the meals served have become actual incentives for children in India to attend schools and achieve academic success. Children of all these government institutions don’t skip schools because of scrumptious lunch they get to relish.

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This large-scale impact, created with the help of charity donations, was made possible by streamlining a six-sigma methodology that goes into the cooking and serving of these meals every single day. The funds raised, for Mid-Day Meal Programme, help us fill over 1.6 million stomachs every day.

MDMP is like a high-scale project of a company 

Akshaya Patra functions like a private company by ensuring quality of production and delivery. The quality inspection, storage and preservation of raw materials follow the standards set by Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA); the rice is supplied by the Food Corporation of India (FCI); all the kitchens follow ‘First In, First Out’ and ‘First Expiry, First Out’ methods while using the raw materials for cooking. The vessels used for cooking are made of 304 grade stainless steel. Well-trained cooks and supervisors ensure quality control while cooking for these kitchens run by the top NGO that’s on a mission to feed the children.

Hope stories testify quality 

Children usually have the habit of skipping lunch, so engrossed they are in their games and sports. But beneficiaries of MDMP enthusiastically have their lunch every day and the prospect of a nutritious meal encourages them to come to school regularly. Several hope stories we came across over the years testify how MDMP has influenced the lives of the children positively.

Initiatives that draw accountability  

Akshaya Patra keeps a strict policy of transparency to maintain complete accountability of the quality of meals being served. The non-profit organisation often engages in several initiatives to involve the society so people are encouraged towards charity fundraising or donations for the cause of food and education. These events publicly involve the society and hold the non-profit organisation accountable for quality. 

Innovative kitchens that set benchmarks

When 100,000 meals are cooked in a single state-of-the-art centralised kitchen, repeated experiments can make it possible. So Akshaya Patra partnered with Innovation Alchemy for scaling up its kitchens without compromising on the quality. As a result, these centralised kitchens have become a subject of study and research. They have been featured on National Geographic channel’s India’s Mega Kitchens. You can read about them in the book God’s Own Kitchen.

Donors trust MDMP

 It’s the transparency of the MDMP scheme that makes prestigious companies and trusted brands often lend a helping hand in terms of charity donations and fundraising. In April 2017, SBI foundation donated a generous amount to the non-profit organisation and would be invested towards 1250 hot insulated vessels to keep food hot for 8-10 hours. The insulated hot boxes would be distributed amongst Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Nathdwara kitchens. Apart from organisations, Akshaya Patra allows individuals to contribute smaller amounts in sponsoring a child or in simply donating for the overall cause. Due to the generous charity donations and fundraising, Akshaya Patra is able to comply with quality and hygiene standards set every day in the Mid-Day Meal Programme.

 

A sneak-peek into Akshaya Patra’s mega kitchens that feed millions of children

Akshaya Patra Kitchens

Imagine 100,000 meals being cooked in a single kitchen under strict norms of hygiene and quality control. Akshaya Patra’s state-of-the-art centralised kitchens process these meals on a daily basis. Due to their standards of hygiene and technology, they have been featured in National Geographic Channel’s India’s Mega Kitchens as well.

The kitchens follow the six sigma methodology with a pre-scheduled menu and equipment that’s relevant to the specific region. For instance, North Indian kitchens have rice and dal cauldrons with roti making machines while South Indian kitchens have rice and sambar cauldrons.

Ensuring quality every day

The NGO’s kitchens ensure quality all through its centers in India right from the procurement of the raw material. The quality inspection, storage and preservation of raw materials follow the standards set by Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA); the rice is supplied by the Food Corporation of India (FCI); all the kitchens follow First in First Out and First Expiry First Out methods while using the raw materials for cooking.

All the vessels used during cooking are of stainless steel 304 food grade material. Well-trained cooks and supervisors ensure quality control during the cooking for these kitchens run by the top NGO that’s on a mission to feed the children.

Here are few photographs that give you a glimpse of our kitchens:

Big couldrons

Big Couldrons

Centralised Kitchens

Centralised Kitchens

Chopped Vegetables

Chopped Vegetables

Roti Cutting Machine

Roti Cutting Machine

The NGO also conducts training programmes for the cooking staff in various parts of India to make them aware and conscious that since they are feeding nutritious meals to the children, they need to be strict about personal hygiene. Akshaya Patra’s newest kitchen opened recently in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The kitchen has the capacity to cook mid-day meals for 50,000 children. About 28,000 children from 57 government schools In Bhavnagar will be benefitted by Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals in the area. Now Akshaya Patra, as one of top NGOs in India, has 28 centralised kitchens and two de-centralised kitchens across India. The Akshaya Patra Foundation operates in 29 locations across 12 States in India feeding over 1.6 million children.