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.
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!
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.”
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
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.