How you can make a difference this new year

It’s been over a week since we entered 2018. And, most of us would have strictly tried to stick to our New Year resolutions. Most popular among them, of course, are those relating to diet and weight loss.

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Most of us would have probably started slacking off on the resolutions to exercise every day or go for a walk every day. While looking for a resolution, why not look for something that you believe you can stick with, instead of doing something that you know is easy to not stick to.

It’s still not too late to start off on a resolution. Why not resolve to donate to charity this year. You could do so by contributing for the causes supported by The Akshaya Patra Foundation. By opting for regular payments, you will be happy that you are able to stick to the resolution and, the best of all, contribute to a worthy cause.

Impact from Reach

Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal today reaches over 1.6 million children across the said 12 states in the country. The children are supplied from 34 kitchens from 12 states.

A mere Rs 950 can feed a school-going child for a whole year. Imagine, the impact such a small amount can have.

The change that it can bring out in the life of a child by guaranteeing he/she can stay at school and not worry about lunch ensures that the child can stay focused on the task at hand, that of learning.  This is perhaps the biggest of the advantages of mid-day meal scheme.

The funds needed to support the growing movement, no less, can in fact be boosted. This can ensure that the children continue to enjoy wholesome meals every day. The Foundation has been tech-savvy. It has taken to online fundraising to stay with the times so that you can be part of the movement.

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Spreading Smiles Through Food Every Day

The humble beginnings of The Akshaya Foundation started with it serving mid-day meals to about 1,500 children in the year 2000 to five government schools in Bengaluru. The foundation, known for its dedicated service, now aims to reach 5 million children every day by 2020.

NGO for Children

Having started with just one van transporting food from a kitchen in Bengaluru across the schools, the Foundation today serves over 1.6 million children across 13,800+ schools in 12 states across India. The food supplied is cooked in 34 centralised and decentralised kitchens operated by the Foundation. Corporates and Individuals donating for education in India have been a major support to the Foundation.

Built on a public-private partnership model, Akshaya Patra combines good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver a nutritious and hygienic school lunch. It has taken one baby step at a time, and over time adopting a near corporate-style of functioning, including annual auditing by highly respected auditors. This has ensured that it is trusted by every donor. It also got the respect of many multi-national companies to support the cause of a top NGO like Akshaya Patra.

The Foundation’s kitchens are built leveraging the state of the art technology. The meals are prepared with a minimal human contact with the food and thus are extremely safe and hygienic.

Started with a vision that “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”, it has been very successful in meeting the aim to a very great extent. Despite the huge and daunting task ahead of it in a country where millions of children are born into economically-challenged families, it did not deter the Foundation.

But, to keeps its good work going, it needs continuous flow of funds. It’s only the NGOs’ role in India that ensures the needy children are reached across the country.  It has today come to be one of the largest such mid-day meal schemes in the world and it’s growing rapidly.

Why Children Need a Wholesome Meal

What makes the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme significant? It’s because it feeds the children with wholesome meal. This kind of meal aids in growth of their body and mind. During their childhood, children are more prone to develop at least one of the micronutrient deficiencies such as vitamin A, iodine, iron, zinc or folate. They must be given a wholesome meal in sufficient quantity to ensure their body develops with their age.

Food for children

The mid-day meal programme run by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO that has kitchens across India. One of them is in Surat. From their state-of-the-art kitchen in Surat, the meal is supplied to various schools in and around Surat.

The NGO is feeding the children in Surat as part of its nation-wide programme that’s run in collaboration with the Government. This programme lays emphasis on the wholesomeness of the meals because these meals directly impact children’s growth. The NGO, that began operations in the year 2000, works in active collaboration with the government and government-run schools in order to feed the children.

In Surat, the school children are especially excited as they are getting their favourite meals every day served by the NGO’s volunteers. As part of the Hunger Action Month, the NGO is trying to take mid-day meals to more schools in Surat and other parts of Gujarat.

The contributors or donors to the NGO get the benefit of 80G deduction in income tax. That way more donors are encouraged to contribute and help in feeding the children. However, it’s not just the 80G deduction that encourages people. Many people in the city take out time to volunteer in the kitchen. They help the staff in cooking the meals and serving it to the children.

The kitchen of this NGO in Surat especially uses pulses such as Toor dal, fortified soy dal, green gram whole, Urad dal, peas, Moong dal, cow pea, green gram sprouts, soy products like- chunks, flakes, Gram dal, Bengal gram whole, channa dal etc. while preparing the meals. Since the menu is already in place, the meals are always healthy and wholesome and benefit the children.

Feeding the children with wholesome meals is significant today if we want our children to experience a healthy growth. You can join us this month as we observe Hunger Action Month and attempt to eliminate hunger among children in India.

Role of NGOs in uplifting children

Non-government organisations often take up charity for children because they know children are the future of the nation. There’s a long list of NGOs in Bangalore that are involved in the causes related to children.

mid-day meal in school

Among them is a prominent NGO in Bangalore, Akshaya Patra that provides food and education to children through charity resources. This specific charity for children aims at reducing classroom hunger, thereby, bringing children to schools. NGOs like this are playing a crucial role in eradicating both hunger and illiteracy among children. The NGO in Bangalore follows a certain guideline which is used while preparing a wholesome lunch in their kitchen. With its state-of-the-art kitchens that prepare hygienic food, the NGO ensures that more and more schools are added in the list of serving the food in Bangalore schools.

This cause also encourages parents to send their children to school and gives them an equal opportunity to study as well as get a healthy meal. Akshaya Patra believes that both physical and mental growth of children could be stunted if they are not served nutritious food.

Even as the government in India strives to make primary education free and compulsory for children, school drop-out rate continues to rise. And the major cause of this rise is classroom hunger. The only effective way to eliminate this cause is to serve wholesome mid-day meals in schools so children are motivated to attend schools every day.

The NGO gives its well-wishers an opportunity to contribute towards this charity by inviting online donations, encouraging people towards online fundraising campaigns and partnering with corporate sector for resources and volunteers. You can also play a major role in helping NGOs such as Akshaya Patra by choosing to contribute in whatever way you can. Sponsor a child today!

 

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.

How do NGOs leverage social media to promote their causes?

NGO social media Banner

Techreport surveyed more than 4,000 NGOs last year across 153 countries about how they were using social media. Turns out, 92% of global non-profit organisations had a website and a Facebook page, 78% of these were mobile-compatible, while 72% used Twitter.

This report alone is proof that NGOs are targeting millennials and Gen-X that are more open to online donations or online fundraising campaigns. Donors now have a wide variety of choices to select a cause they feel most strongly for.

This blog lists some ways that are actively being used by global NGOs as they leverage social media and online channels for charity purposes, online fundraising and other such activities. We have taken the example of a global NGO in India called Akshaya Patra that’s on a mission to feed school-going children with a wholesome lunch every day.

Make success stories sharable

NGOs around the world now understand the impact of stories on social media. And since they are often involved in causes related to human rights, they often have great stories to tell. Akshaya Patra loves sharing Hope Stories that are easily sharable on social media. This encourages visitors to check their website for details such as online fundraising, sponsoring a child or sponsoring a school.

Write linkable tweets on other platforms

NGOs have learnt to leverage attention beyond their own websites and social media pages. They make themselves heard on other prominent platforms such as Forbes, The Huffington Post and others. Akshaya Patra has a small microblog on the online edition of Forbes with the Twitter icon, so that it can be easily shared. Such initiatives have helped people around the world associate mid-day meals with Akshaya Patra.

Sharing history to add credibility

NGOs are quite forthcoming these days about sharing their history and background. They choose compelling storytelling methods to talk about their history to encourage donors for donating to charity and building trust. Akshaya Patra has an interesting history that’s not only presented beautifully on their website but is often shared on various social media platforms in digestible chunks of content.

Use Youtube for visual recall

Youtube is a social channel that’s quite democratic when it comes to widespread reach. Akshaya Patra often shares video stories about important launches, events, its state-of-the-art kitchens and other aspects of its school lunch programme. Recently, noted author Rashmi Bansal’s book launch event had received considerable attention on Youtube. Her book –God’s Own Kitchen – is traces the Foundation’s journey.

Partner with others

A non-profit organisation cannot work alone. It needs like-minded partners. Akhaya Patra partners with startups and enterprises to scale up at various levels. In one such initiative, it partnered with Innovative Alchemy, which helped the organisation to develop an innovative kitchen design that helped scale up its kitchens. Partners like these often share this kind of content on their own social media platforms that further expands the reach of NGOs like Akshaya Patra.

NGOs today are more aware and tech-savvy and are clear about their target audience. This clarity often helps them increase the scope of their causes and source necessary means to implement schemes.