Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India. And, it is reported that over the next 10 years, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar will together account for 31% of youngest Indian population between five and 14 years. This indicates that education and health will play deciding factors for them to turn into assets for the country. As per the Census 2011, the literacy rate of Uttar Pradesh is just 67.7%. Among the many factors that affect school enrolment and literacy rate is the provision of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. The Supreme Court mandated Mid-Day Meal Scheme was introduced in the state in September 2004. And, currently this scheme covers over 123.57-lakh students in 1,14,125 primary schools and 54.94-lakh students in 54,394 upper primary schools in the state. Over the years, the state has observed tangible impact of the scheme in school enrolment, attendance, and health of the students. And, this impact was furthered by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, and NGO in Lucknow.
In Uttar Pradesh, Akshaya Patra provides mid-day meal in two locations – Vrindavan and Lucknow. The NGO began its journey of providing mid-day meal in Uttar Pradesh by establishing the Vrindavan kitchen in August 2004. Currently, 1,20,262 children in 2,010 schools get benefitted from this kitchen. The kitchen at Lucknow was established in March 2015 and presently provides mid-day meal to 91,418 children in 1,011 schools. Keeping hygiene and cleanliness as our topmost priorities while preparing mid-day meals for children, both the kitchens in Uttar Pradesh are ISO 22000:2005 certified. The mid-day meals served in Uttar Pradesh follow a local palate inclusive of roti with subzi, so that maximum children readily and joyfully eat their school lunch.
As part of self-assessment of the Mid-Day Meal Programme, Akshaya Patra time and again conducts third party assessments. One such assessment was conducted by Sigma Research and Consulting Pvt. Ltd. in 2014. The report studied eight location of Akshaya Patra based on the variables pertaining to four main objectives: elimination of classroom hunger, social equity, nutrition and health, and enrolment, retention and attendance. The assessment showed a positive trend on all the variables and the overall score of Uttar Pradesh was 9.43 on a scale of 10. This reveals that while there is significant impact of the mid-day meal in Uttar Pradesh, there is also scope for creating more impact.
Currently, Akshaya Patra is providing nutritious school lunch to 2,11,680 children in 3,021 schools in Uttar Pradesh. This means each day millions of children are able to attend school and take steps towards their aspirations. You too can act as a catalyst by choosing to sponsor a child. Come forward and join the ‘unlimited food for education’ motto of this NGO in Lucknow.