The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a mid-day meal NGO in India headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The Foundation has been in the service of children since its inception in 2000. With a vision, “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”, the Foundation strives to provide freshly cooked, wholesome, and tasty meals to school going children. Currently, Akshaya Patra provides mid-day meals to more than 17-lakh children on each school day and it aims to feed 5 million children by 2020.
As they say, the greater the expanse of work, greater is the responsibility. And, it is evident in Akshaya Patra’s field of service. The Foundation makes use of the centralised kitchen concept to serve meals in urban and semi-urban areas, and the decentralised kitchen concept to provide meals in remote areas. Preparing and serving lakhs of meals every day is not an easy task and to serve hygienic and clean food requires utmost diligence and commitment. Thus, to ensure that children receive hygienic and safe food each time, this NGO in India follows several measures during each stage of production – pre-production, production, and post production. Here are five principle hygiene and safety measures followed by each kitchen of Akshaya Patra irrespective of being centralised kitchen concept or decentralised model:
Quality assurance of raw materials: The Supplier Quality Management System incorporating factors such as Supplier Selection, Supplier Qualification, Supplier Rating etc. is adhered to at each kitchen to ensure procurement of the right and the best quality raw material. The raw materials are accepted only after thorough quality inspection to confirm it meets the Foundation’s raw material specifications that has been adapted from Food Safety and Standards Act 2006.
Storage and handling: Perishable raw materials like vegetables are either procured daily or stored in cold storage. Dry raw materials are stored in dedicated storage rooms. To ensure use of fresh raw materials, all the kitchens follow the FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expiry First Out) methods while issuing raw materials for production.
Sanitisation: All raw materials are thoroughly washed and cleaned with potable water. The kitchen equipment and cleaned before and after use and are sterilised using steam.
Protective gears: All kitchen employees mandatorily follow hygiene practices like hand washing and sanitisation and make use of protective gears such as masks, gloves, boots etc.
Food packing and transportation: The cooked food is packed in insulated vessels and are transported to schools in customised insulated vehicles. The insulated vessels and vehicles retain temperature and ensure meals remain fresh till it is consumed by children.
With the reputation of being considered as the top NGO in India, Akshaya Patra is well-aware of its purpose and responsibility towards lakhs of children it feeds each day. Hence, it also undertakes various improvement processes to enhance its operations, efficiency, productivity, and certainly hygiene and safety.