Celebrate Teachers’ Day by supporting a child’s meal!

“Teachers are the backbone of the education system”
said
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Hence, upon becoming the President of India, when some of his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday on 5th September, he replied, “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers’ Day.” And since then, his words are being followed every year, across the country.

There could be hardly anyone who doesn’t remember their teachers, be they from school or college. We all have had our favourites and not-so-favourites, but whatever it is, reminiscing about the good old learning days, the memories of our teachers have been deeply etched in our hearts. And Teachers’ Day definitely gives us an opportunity to honour and celebrate the sincerity and dedication of our teachers who prepared us for where we are today!

Happy Teachers day

Akshaya Patra’s bond with Teachers

Having been working as a mid-day meal NGO for the past 18+ years, The Akshaya Patra Foundation has a very close and amicable relationship with teachers. At present, Akshaya Patra provides freshly cooked wholesome lunch to 17,65,597 children studying in 15,668 Government & Government-aided schools. These schools are situated in 45 locations across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh.

The teachers of these schools have always been in the forefront to support proper implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Programme. They have always provided regular feedbacks and exhibited complete willingness to help the Foundation in constantly improving the programme.

Stories of teachers

On the humble occasion of Teachers’ Day, here is quoting some of the teachers from the Foundation’s beneficiary schools:

  • Jai Pinto, Physical Education Teacher, Aloysius School, Cleveland Town, Bengaluru says, “The school’s association with Akshaya Patra has been very fulfilling. Children are happy with the wholesome nutritious meals provided. There are fewer dropouts from the marginalised section of the society and I have seen a significant improvement in the enthusiasm levels of children.”
  • Ismail Malik, Principal, Antti Kumar Prathamik Shala, Padra Taluk, Vadodara, Gujarat says, “The mid-day meal has brought a tremendous decline in the student drop-out rate. In the primary school, the increase in attendance is nearly as high as 60% to 70%. The numerous awards that now decorate the school office are a testimony to this.”
  • Ranganath, Head Master, Government High School, Policy Colony, Karnataka says, “The government, by partnering with organisations like Akshaya Patra have ensured that children receive tasty and nutritious meals. The programme has been successful in reducing child labour and improving school enrolment and attendance.”

SEO-Infographic 1-Celebrate Teachers Day with Akshaya Patra

Make their story, yours!

On this Teachers’ Day, choose to share the care of these teachers and hundreds more like them by opting for online donation towards the Mid-Day Meal Programme. The mid-day meals greatly contribute towards better school attendance, improved health and concentration of children. Thus, your contribution towards the Mid-Day Meal Programme will not only help children but also significantly help teachers in their efforts to impart education.

Step ahead, and honour your teacher this Teachers’ Day
by caring for meals of a student!

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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.

The rise and role of an NGO in the development of a country

Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in developing countries through their works in community development and contribution to achieve sustainable goals of the nations. In India, where hunger and illiteracy are two of the major challenges hindering many children’s ability to learn and grow, NGOs form Public-Private Partnership with the Central and State Governments to counter these obstacles.

Significant role of NGOs in empowering children

On 15th August 1995, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to eliminate classroom hunger and increase enrolment, retention, and attendance. Since then, the Mid-Day Meal Programme has been implemented nationwide to provide wholesome, nutritious meals for children studying in Government and Government-aided schools.

The implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Programme relies a lot on the role of Indian charity like The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The role of an NGO in this programme is to support the Government in the expansion of the scheme in order to reach out to more children, thereby reaching the goals of eliminating classroom hunger and achieving equal education for all children in India.

To establish this partnership, an NGO is selected based on its transparency and “of proven integrity” by the Government. Chosen NGOs must also have a set-up kitchen, operate daily meal preparation, and sustain themselves financially. These NGOs are supported by the Government by the way of subsidies and grants to implement their programmes. This solution allows community engagement and has greatly improved the implementation of the Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme: all layers of society are involved, more than 120 million children are reached out, and the scale of the programme has expanded to over 1,265,000 schools and centres.

“No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger” – The Akshaya Patra Foundation

students and books

The Akshaya Patra Foundation started feeding children in June 2000 by feeding 1,500 children in five Government schools in Bengaluru, Karnataka with one wholesome, nutritious mid-day meal per day, every school day. In the past 18+ years, the organisation has expanded its Mid-Day Meal Programme to 1.76 million children in 15,024 Government and Government-aided schools. Up till date, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme that has cumulatively provided over 3 billion meals to children and is working towards its mission to feed 5 million children by 2025.

 

10 Ingredients that make Mid-Day Meal a Healthy Eat!

The 21st century has made us more food conscious than ever. We take interest in understanding the importance of healthy food, nutrition intake, and calories and so on. To simplify the food theories, we have even created food pyramids and graphs based on age groups. Today, we all know what kind of food is acceptable for children and what isn’t.

As an NGO, Akshaya Patra aims to feed the children the right amount of mid-day meals with sufficient nutritional values. We believe mid-day meal benefits every child. Before we share our little secret on keeping children healthy, here’s a bit of history on Nutrition. The word ‘Nutrition’ means ‘nourishment’ and first originated in Latin during early 15th century. Centuries later, when hunger was identified as an issue, a prefix Mal which means ‘bad’ was used to describe poor nutritional levels – malnutrition.

For Akshaya Patra, it is important that children receive the right amount of nutrients in their food. Here’s a list of ingredients used in mid-day meals along with their nutrition value:

nutritional-value-of-mdm

 

To break the cycle of hunger among children, a country must do a lot – introduce nutritional school lunch programmes, ensure initiatives are reaching the target group, prioritise education, stabilise low-income families with subsidies and health care benefits, and many more. Akshaya Patra’s menu of mid-day meals is such that it covers the basics of nutrition intake and calories, making it one of the best diets for children!

Besides clothing and shelter, food is one of the basic needs for humans. We have reached a point in time where most of us are able to afford these basic needs however, lack of food among children continues to be a persistent issue. Let’s act to ensure children receive the two most important elements that can help them grow – food and education. Sponsor a child by donating Rs 950 and be assured that he or she will receive wholesome mid-day meals for an entire academic 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.

school2blogo

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.

keeping-up-with-gujarat25e225802599s-growth-spurt

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.

World Health Day: Children Health and Mid-day Meals

world health day

The World Health Organisation (WHO)—a UN agency concerned with public health at the international level—was founded on 7th April, 1948. In order to commemorate its founding, it was decided to observe 7th April as the World Health Day. While the WHO uses the day to spread awareness about some health issue of major importance, the same is also used by various organisations working in the field of public health to draw people’s attention to issues of concern and put forth some solutions. In India, hunger and malnutrition are two such issues, and the Mid-day Meal Scheme (MDMS) is one of the solutions.

On 28th November, 2001, the Supreme Court of India directed the State Governments “to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government-aided primary school with a prepared mid-day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 g of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days.” The stipulated nutritional content has since been raised to 450 calories and 12 g protein for children in primary schools and 700 calories and 20 g protein for children in upper-primary schools.

Mid-day Meal and Children’s Health

In a country where malnutrition is rampant, 450 calories a day come as a blessing in disguise; all the more so because at times this is the lone meal many of these children afford. If malnutrition levels in India have dropped from 42.5% in 2005-06 to 30% in 2013-14, it’s partly because of feeding initiatives like the MDMS and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

Mid-day meal guidelines also state that the meals served should supply micronutrients like iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamin A, etc., to the beneficiaries, thus making it a wholesome meal necessary for proper growth. It’s important to provide nutrient-rich healthy food to children, as the lack of these nutrients can result in problems like stunting (low height-for-age) and wasting (low weight-for-age).

The meals are prepared after taking specific guidelines into consideration to make sure that children get necessary nutrients. In some states, a list of recipes is provided and the schools are expected to pick one every day, whilst being careful not to repeat it that week. In some states, the vegetables used to prepare meals are repeated on a daily basis.

School teachers are testimony to the change the MDM programme has brought about, especially in the context of children’s health. Earlier, many children used to reach school on an empty stomach; at times, even having missed their previous night’s dinner. As a result, it was difficult for them to concentrate on what they were being taught in school. Since the implementation of MDMS, students are faring better in academics as their concentration has improved.

Lack of a nutritious meal on a daily basis made children weak and thus, prone to missing school. The improvement in nutrition levels of children because of MDMS has translated into reduced absenteeism and dropout rates. With examples like these, it’s but obvious that the mid-day meal is of utmost importance for these people.

Good Hygiene – Sound Health

mid day meal

Mid-day meals are not just directly contributing to the health and nutrition of children, but also helping indirectly by inculcating good habits in them. According to the new MDM guidelines, it’s mandatory for all schools serving mid-day meals to allocate hand washing time as a part of the school timetable in order to ensure that children wash their hands with soap both, before and after their meal. Hand washing is a hygienic practice which helps keep several diseases at bay. Studies reveal that washing hands with soap reduces the likelihood of diarrhoea by a whopping 48 percent.

The best part is that the MDMS is having a positive impact on both, health and education sectors. In the education sector, it acts as a perfect incentive to bring children to school. In fact, there are cases where school-going children are accompanied by their younger siblings for that one nutritious meal. It’s worth noting that the Public-private Partnership with Non-Governmental Organisations, like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, is helping the State Governments to feed hungry children across the country.

At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that it’s because of the MDMS that children, who would have otherwise been working to support their family, can now have a nutritious meal … and dare to pursue their dreams. So why not use this World Health Day to further the cause and help the concerned agencies to reach more children.

Read on the eve of World Health Day, how Akshaya Patra is addressing malnutrition at: blog.akshayapatra.org/world-health-day


 

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