How Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal impact education in India

Mid-day meal impact

Until our stomach is full, the mind is pre-occupied with the thought of food – it is a fact! So, do you think it is possible for young children to concentrate in the classroom and focus on school activities when their stomachs are growling with hunger?

Aside from being an important aspect in the growth and development of children, food is also a prerequisite for effective education. And, that’s where the Mid-Day Meal Scheme come into the picture. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is an initiative of Government of India to provide cooked meals to the children of government schools and government-aided schools. Over the years, this Scheme has become a significant pillar and a prime influence on the progress of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan. Several NGOs have partnered with the government to implement this Scheme across the country, and one such NGO is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. This NGO has been providing school midday meal since 2000. Presently, it serves mid-day meals to more than 1.7 million children in 14,173 schools of 36 locations in 12 states of India.

In most instances, it has been observed that school meal acts as an incentive for families of not-so-privileged backgrounds. Parents send their children to school with the hope that the young members will at least get one proper meal for the day. This provides an opportunity to the children to attend school thereby benefitting them doubly with nutritious food and rightful education. Thus, as part of self-assessment, Akshaya Patra periodically conducts third-party studies to understand the impact and opportunities of the mid-day meal programme. The summary of many such impact studies indicate:

  • There has been an increase in enrolment of children
  • Regularity and attendance among students is on the rise
  • Student drop-out rate has decreased
  • There has been a significant improvement in the health of children
  • The level of concentration among children has improved
  • There is an enhanced sense of social equity and socialisation among children

As a mid-day meal NGO, Akshaya Patra understands the need to remain transparent about its operations and developments with the government and civil society. Thus, it annually publishes the NGO Annual Report containing audited financial statements, organisational highlights, achievements, plans, and goals along with the impact it has had on the beneficiaries.

Interestingly, Akshaya Patra implements the mid-day meal programme with the vision that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’. This itself indicates that the NGO strives to provide nutritious school midday meals to children in order to support their education. Step in to support the efforts of this mid-day meal NGO. Choose to donate for education in India through Akshaya Patra. This will not only support the education of children but will also contribute to their healthy growth and development. So, join hands with Akshaya Patra and provide ‘unlimited food for education’.

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NGO in Telangana & Its Kitchen

According to the ‘Telangana Socio-Economic Outlook 2018’, there is a substantial discrepancy in literacy rate across the state. While Hyderabad fairs significantly with 83.2%, Jogulamba Gadwal district is struggling with 49.9% literacy rate. It has been reported that of the total 31 districts, 26 districts have literacy rates below the State average of 66.54%. In order to bring the low scoring districts at par with the high scoring districts, the government is putting in lot of efforts. In support of the government’s effort, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in Hyderabad began its mid-day meal service in the state in 2008.

Purpose of mid-day meal programme

On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate 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.” Through this scheme it was intended to:

  • avoid classroom hunger
  • increase school enrolment
  • increase school attendance
  • improve socialisation among castes
  • address malnutrition
  • empower women through employment

Headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, Akshaya Patra wanted to give these advantages of mid-day meal scheme to the children of India. Hence, after its inception in 2000, the NGO started expanding its reach across the country. The Foundation made its foray to Telangana by establishing its first kitchen in Hyderabad in 2008. Currently, this NGO is feeding a total of 91,675 children in 805 government schools across the state.

Akshaya Patra Kitchens in Telangana

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Beginning its journey in 2008, today Akshaya Patra is providing mid-day meal in Telangana from its three centralised kitchens located in Hyderabad, Narsingi, and Kothagudem. Recently, the Foundation inaugurated its fourth kitchen in Kandi and it is the NGO’s largest one-of-a-kind hi-tech mega kitchens. Equipped to feed 1-lakh children per day, this kitchen was built in partnership with the Infosys Foundation.

With a grant of INR 18.50 crore, Infosys Foundation funded the entire construction cost of this kitchen. Alike all Akshaya Patra kitchens, the Telangana kitchens strictly adhere to hygiene and cleanliness standards in all its kitchen processes too. To improve productivity and efficiency of operational processes, Kaizen, Continuous Improvement Projects and Six Sigma methodologies are a part of a Telangana’s kitchen operations.

The kitchens of Telangana feature all the aspects of centralised kitchens such as cauldrons, trolleys, rice chutes, grinding machines, RO plants, and the like. Each of the kitchens has dedicated customised delivery vehicles to transport cooked meals to all beneficiary schools. The NGO in Hyderabad makes use of biogas briquettes and solar power as form of fuel and energy to operate the kitchen.

Menu of Telangana kitchens

Akshaya Patra has designed its meal menu to suit the local taste so that children enjoy their meal to the utmost. In line with the same, some of the menu items served to children in Telangana are: rice, lemon rice, sambar (a mixed vegetable and lentil curry), sundal (a South Indian dish, a dry legume-lentil preparation spiced, tempered, along with fresh coconut), pappu (a type of South Indian lentil curry), tomato pappu, vegetable biryani (a popular rice dish), and vegetable korma (an Indian dish made with vegetables and yogurt)

Socio-developmental initiatives

Besides providing mid-day meal, the Hyderabad kitchen is also involved in various socio-developmental initiatives to ensure betterment of the beneficiaries and the society. Some of the initiatives are:

  • Conducting awareness programmes
  • Life skills programme
  • Scholarship programme
  • Anganwadi Feeding
  • Feeding expecting and lactating mothers

As a mid-day meal NGO, Akshaya Patra wants to multiply its reach so that many more children receive the advantages of mid-day meal scheme. For this, the NGO operates in a Public-Private Partnership model, and while it is receiving aid from government, it also requires support and involvement of the civil society. Partake in the Foundation’s endeavour of providing ‘unlimited food for education’. Choose to donate to charity by either contributing funds online, sponsoring a school for a year or by donating a meal delivery vehicle. Your one contribution can make a huge difference in a child’s life. And, did you know that you can feed a child for the entire year with just Rs. 950!

NGO in Rajasthan & Its Kitchen

Reportedly, Rajasthan is the seventh most populated state in India. Of its total population, 24% is aged between six and fourteen. And, the question of concern is its education scenario. Rajasthan has the fourth lowest literacy rate in the country and has the lowest female literacy rate of just 52.66% (Census 2011). The state is also haunted by high rate of out of school and school drop-out rate. Rajasthan reported a 6.6% improvement in its literacy rate in ten years as against a countrywide improvement of 9.2%. It is one of the four BIMARU states that has lowest literacy rate and learning outcomes; the other states being Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. To address this situation, several measures have been taken by the government, and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme is one such intervention. As a supporting arm to the government’s effort, The Akshaya Patra Foundation is serving mid-day meals to more than one lakh government school children by operating as a NGO in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Nathdwara, Ajmer, and Baran.

Mid-day meal in Rajasthan

The Foundation has been providing mid-day meal in Rajasthan since 2004 by establishing its first kitchen in Jaipur. Currently, Akshaya Patra feeds a total of 1,70,723 children in 2,672 government schools across the state. The NGO operates two types of kitchen in the state – centralised kitchens and decentralised kitchens. The centralised kitchens serve children in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Nathdwara, and Ajmer whereas decentralised kitchens provide meals in the Baran region. Of the four centralised kitchens, three kitchens namely Jaipur, Nathdwara, and Ajmer are ISO 22000:2005 certified kitchens and the Jodhpur kitchen is in the process of certification.

The hi-tech centralised kitchens of the Foundation are equipped with roti-making machines, grinding machines, potato peeler machines, vegetable cutting machines, daliya roasting woks, atta kneaders, flour mill machines, cauldrons, trolleys, RO plants, rice-cleaning machines. Each of the kitchens has dedicated customised delivery vehicles. To suit the local taste, the kitchens follow a North Indian menu comprising of roti (Indian flatbread), dal (lentil curry),  rice, mixed vegetable curry, kadhi (curd-based curry), biscuits, khichdi (a dish made of rice, lentils, and vegetables), sweet daliya (a cereal-based dish), cake, biscuit, and kheer (rice-based Indian dessert).

Similar to all kitchens of the Foundation, the Rajasthan kitchens strictly adhere to hygiene and cleanliness practices while preparing meals. Kaizen, Continuous Improvement Projects and Six Sigma methodologies form an integral part of these kitchens too. While providing wholesome mid-day meals to school children in Rajasthan, this NGO in Jaipur also implements various eco-friendly measures in its kitchen operations to save cost and reduce carbon footprint while maintaining efficiency of production. Some of the initiatives taken in the kitchens of Rajasthan are:

  • Solar power panels
  • Sewage Treatment Plant
  • Reed bed plant
  • Liquid Off Take (LOT) system to reduce LPG consumption
  • Regular lab testing for emission, air etc.

The Foundation has not stopped at just providing mid-day meal in Rajasthan, rather it has also been actively involved in various socio-developmental initiatives such as Shoes Distribution, Talents Hunt, and Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.

Akshaya Patra wants to expand its reach and benefit more children in the state. But, in doing so, it requires your support. You can be a part of the NGO’s mission to nourish children by either opting to contribute funds, donate a vehicle to deliver meals to schools or by adopting a school. By contributing towards the NGO’s cause you will ensure that children receive at least one nutritious meal per day. It will also make you a changemaker striving for a healthy and educated tomorrow. Take a step for children, support their meal, and get prepared to witness a nourished and educated India.

How mid-day meal plays an important role in Government Schools

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is one of the most important interventions by Government of India to promote education. On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate 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.” Hence, under this scheme, children of government school receive free and nutritious meals on school days. It has been observed that the Mid-Day Meal Scheme has had a significant impact on the nutritional and educational status of children. During 2016-17, 9.78-crore children from 11.40-lakh schools had benefited from this scheme.

mid-day meal benefits

The government encourages the participation of NGOs by providing ample support with the intention to multiply the mid-day meal benefits i.e.:

  • avoid classroom hunger
  • increase school enrolment
  • increase school attendance
  • improve socialisation among castes
  • address malnutrition
  • empower women through employment

Since NGOs work at the grass root level and the role of NGOs is very crucial in furthering the benefits of mid-day meal, the government has set certain criterions as per NP-NSPE guidelines to select a partner NGO. Only upon fulfilment of the criterions the NGO will be considered for government partnership and also receive aid from the government in the form of grants and subsidies. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the main mid-day meal NGOs in India that fulfil and adheres to the NP-NSPE guidelines. The NGO had begun implementing the mid-day meal programme in June 2000. And, after the Supreme Court’s mandate, it partnered with the government to continue the programme. This partnership was a welcome progression for the Foundation in providing nutritious meals and supporting the education of children.

Undeniably, school plays an important role in the socio-economic development of society. It is a place where children from various backgrounds mingle together promoting the culture of unity and brotherhood. The education they receive at school prepare them to achieve their goals and become successful in their lives. But, children of government schools mostly come from economically challenged backgrounds. So, even though education schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan are being implemented, the difficult financial conditions force these children to choose work over school. And, this is where the real potential of mid-day meal surfaces. Mid-day meal acts as an attractive incentive for parents to send their children to school with the sole hope that the young ones will receive at least one plate full of meal for the day. Thus, by giving the assurance of food, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme brings children to school, regularises attendance, checks drop-out rate, and helps children to receive the education they rightfully deserve.

Akshaya Patra is aware of the tangible and sustainable impact of mid-day meal. Hence, taking the onus, it conducts regular impact studies of its school lunch programme, the results of which are heartening. The several impact studies suggest that there has been a marked improvement in factors related to enrolment, attendance, health, and socialisation. To multiply this impact and bring more children under the purview of its school lunch programme, Akshaya Patra seeks supporting hands. And to make it easy for donors, it offers a quick and secure online platform. Through this platform, one can donate for the mid-day meal programme instantly from anywhere and at any time, with the provision of receiving tax exemption benefits too. It will be worth a step if you donate to charity. It will provide food and education to many deserving children while making you an important link in the chain of social development and national progress.

Water Conservation Methods at Akshaya Patra Kitchens

On the occasion of World Water Day which is going to be celebrating on March 22nd, Akshaya Patra likes to share few of its water conservation methods which are implemented in its kitchen. This NGO runs pilot projects in its kitchens focussing on every area of kitchen processes and upon achieving favourable results implements it in the daily operations. Some of the measures that have clearly resulted in reduced water consumption are:

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To see complete details about the conservation methods and tips given by the beneficiaries, visit: World Water Day

How can parents inculcate social responsibility among children?

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James A. Baldwin once said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” One of the best ways that parents can teach their children to contribute to the development of the community is by setting examples of social service. Here’s how they can do it:

Volunteer for education

Take them along on weekends to teach children in slums who have no or little access to school and education. You can also teach them importance of opting for wholesome meal instead of junk by sponsoring meal for the children there. You can talk about Akshaya Patra that’s on a mission to get children back to school by serving them mid-day meals. They will realise the importance of wholesome meal. You can donate online on Akshaya Patra’s website and involve them in the activity.

Work for environment

Buy seeds and saplings and encourage them to plant those. They can also indulge in online fundraising to fund tree plantation drives. But most of all you can involve them in nurturing a beautiful garden at home so that they can learn to respect the environment.

Non-profit fundraising ideas

Children read and observe more than you can imagine. Have a brainstorming session with them at home discussing fundraising ideas. Reap some benefit out of this activity. For example, they can create an artwork that can be sold through social networking sites. The funds raised can be donated to non-profit organisations.

Social responsibility

It’s only when such thoughts and acts are encouraged among children that we can build a selfless society. When you choose to donate towards charity, it’s the biggest gesture you can make in order to encourage children towards social service. Sponsor a child today!

Charity fundraising ideas to take children back to school

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A fully literate nation is a step closer to the prosperity of its citizens. As children get back to school, we can engage in some charity fundraising activities to aid their education. Here are some interesting non-profit fundraising ideas you can look forward to.

Selling handmade cards/bookmarks

Bring together children from your area to create interesting art work depicting their school life or subjects they love the most.  Let the children use their imagination and create cards, posters and bookmarks. Organise a non-profit fundraising activity in your area, school or college where you can sell the art works. Use these proceeds to sponsor a child’s education in organisations like Akshaya Patra.

Book exchange

Students in school or colleges or even working executives can be invited on Facebook to exchange their books as a charity fundraising campaign. Motivate people to give away their unused or read books that they don’t wish to retain anymore. Set a nominal fee to enroll in the activity. Inform the participants that the proceeds generated from the activity will be used to send children back to school.

Online fundraising campaigns

Browsing online for information and engaging activities has become a second nature of millennial generation. A thoughtfully created online activity can engage them easily. Use the power of online media to start a charity fundraising campaigns for non-profit organisations such as Akshaya Patra. It’s easier to create online non-profit fundraising campaigns; and if done smartly, you can raise a significant amount of funds for the cause.

Garage sale

You can simply organise a garage sale in your office or colony and ask people to donate things they don’t mind parting from. Participants can not only donate the stuff but also buy some of those that are kept there by others. Use the proceeds of this sale towards any cause related to education.

As you engage in these activities, Akshaya Patra does its bit by incentivising school children to attend schools by serving them wholesome lunch? You can also be a part of the great mission of sending children back to school by starting your own online fundraising campaign. Create a campaign today.

We are a few steps closer to being a fully literate country. Reaching there is not so tough if we come together.

9 Quotes that will inspire every child to study

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Do you find studies interesting or boring? Now that you are back to school, you better answer that question. Guess what? We are an NGO in India – Akshaya Patra – and we inspire millions of children every year to go back to school and study. We provide them with a free-of-cost wholesome lunch at school, so they never skip studies. We get funds through online fundraising or inspiring people to donate to this charity. And people donate generously because they realise the importance of education.

So, today we want to inspire you to study and study hard this year. These are some famous quotes of great men and women who took their studies very seriously. 

Who doesn’t want treasure?

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Image courtesy – AZ Quotes

The creator of Mickey and Mini Mouse Walt Disney loved reading. Here’s what he said – There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.

Physics woes?

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Image courtesy – discov-her.com

Do you find physics very tough? That’s because you have associated physics with difficulty. This quote on physics must inspire you – Physics is about questioning, studying, probing nature. You probe, and, if you’re lucky, you get strange clues, said a noted Danish physicist Lene Hau.

Reading can relax you

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Do you love Hermoine Granger from Harry Potter movies? Her character was played by Emma Watson. She says – It sounds so geeky, but I really do like studying and reading, and if I’m not working on ‘Harry Potter’, then my greatest relaxation is to sit with a book.

Are exams boring?

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Well, a person who made science popular in modern times, Michio Kaku (physicist and futurist), has some advice for you. He says – Keep the flame of curiosity and wonderment alive, even when studying for boring exams. That is the well from which we scientists draw our nourishment and energy. And also, learn the math. Math is the language of nature, so we have to learn this language.

Studying takes you to success

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You know what noted hockey player Pele said about success? He said: Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.

Studying leads to questioning

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Albert Einstein once said: The important thing is not to stop questioning. But how would you question unless you earn knowledge, learn new things and study?

Want to be better?

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Image courtesy – writersbone.com

Writer Maya Angelou said: When you know better you do better.

The only way to become a better person, student or citizen is to acquire knowledge.

Learning keeps you young

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The founder of Ford Motors – Henry Ford – loved to learn new things. He said: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

You will go places

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Image courtesy – wikipedia

A popular writer of children’s book – Dr Seuss – loved taking children to a ride of whole new worlds through his books. He encouraged children to study and read. Do you know why? Because, as he said, The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.

Inspired much? Then spread the word and put your heart into studies. Tell others about Akshaya Patra and how this NGO in India is helping school children get a wholesome lunch. Ask your elders to donate to this charity. You may also help us by simply organising an online fundraising campaign. Let’s study and inspire others to study.

3 tips to prepare yourself for the next academic year!

A few more weeks and you will be back to school. Are you prepared to face another academic year? If not, here are a few fun tips to help you get into the school state of mind once again.

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Learn the tables

 You will definitely have the new year’s syllabus and Math would get more advanced but there’s one thing that you can never outgrow – multiplication tables. How many tables do you remember from last year? Gather all your friends every evening and take turns leading each other in recalling various tables. If you work on your math, you can later become a pilot, or go for engineering or join the Indian army just like 13-year-old Lakshmi from Hubballi. She is good at math and is serious about her career. She is a beneficiary of the mid-day meal scheme run by a non-profit organisation Akshaya Patra.

Work on your general knowledge

Do you know who’s the President of India or President of the United States? Do you know the largest state in India? Ask your friends around you, ask your parents. Get yourself old newspapers and see if they have this information! Work on your general knowledge as you gear up to attend another academic year. It would not only get you good grades but also make you smarter than other peers.

Practise painting

Do you like drawing or painting? Did you get a chance to practise these in summer vacation? If not, you can do so now. These activities open up creative faculties in your mind, making you smarter and sharper. Meet Pawan, a 14-year-old school student from Mysuru. He regularly practises his painting skills and wishes to become an artist when he grows up. How wonderful! Pawan goes to school every day because he gets a wholesome lunch at school free of cost, thanks to several charity fundraising initiatives from volunteers.

A lot of children like you are excited to get back to school because they are prepared. Many of these children are part of the mid-day meal scheme that’s run by a non-profit organisation Akshaya Patra. They feed wholesome lunch to school children like yourself in various government schools and invite several volunteers for charity fundraising. If you know anyone who can donate or sponsor a child, ask them to join hands.

We need your support for a new academic year!

If there’s one thing that parents dread, it’s convincing their children to get ready for a new academic year, especially after a good summer vacation. A new year can be fascinating but children always tend to be reluctant in giving up the carefree summer routine. On the other hand, there are many children who are eagerly waiting for school to begin because their lunch is taken care of.

Children in Assam

Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Programme is currently available in 11 states including Assam, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. But before the schools re-open, the Foundation is looking forward to donors’ charity support which will ultimately help millions of children.

What is Akshaya Patra’s role as an NGO?

 With a mission to end classroom hunger, Akshaya Patra began its initiative called the Mid-Day Meal Programme. If the students are provided an incentive to attend school, they get encouraged to complete their education. Its meals constitute a balanced diet that’s delicious and motivates the kids to attend the classes every day. This venture is spread across 11 states today. Akshaya Patra also feeds the hungry in Uttar Pradesh where the percentage of undernourished kids is high.

How can you support us?

 Because undernourishment and illiteracy are social problems, their eradication plans would inevitably involve the contribution of society. There are a number of ways by which we can help the efforts to ensure maximum attendance of kids in school. Donors have the option of sponsoring a school for a year, fundraising or simply donating some amount to charity and help in feeding the children.

As the schools reopen in a few months, remember that there are a whole lot of children who are in need of nutritious food. This is possible with your support towards Food for Education initiative by Akshaya Patra – an effort to aid 13,577 government schools in India.

To encourage children to attend school, Akshaya Patra urges people to donate to charity, and most importantly, for the betterment of the future.