Importance of social media presence for an NGO

NGO Social Accounts

First it was the internet, and now it’s social media that has altered our lives to an extent none of us might have ever imagined. We have attached such a kind of reputation to social media that your absence from it labels you as being an unsocial, outdated, or old generation.

Until a decade ago, social media was mainly used as a means of communication. But now, it is a platform to introduce and market businesses. For instance, when Facebook was first launched, we all used it to connect with friends and families. But, now Facebook is used more to market businesses and engage clients. If you visit the official website of any brand or business you will find Facebook as one of the ‘connect with us’ options, and the same is true for other social media platforms as well such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. The need for social media presence is not only felt by the business sector but by the not-for-profit organisations too.

Since, not-for-profit organisations or NGOs need the support of the civil society, it becomes a prerequisite to reach out to the mass. Here, social media plays a very significant role. If tapped well, social media can generate tremendous support for NGOs by spreading the cause in a limitless manner. Most NGOs – national and international, have realised the power of social media, and hence uses it strategically and creatively to garner support from the mass. One such NGO in India is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. It is a mid-day meal NGO headquartered in Bengaluru with operational units in 36 locations across 12 states. Currently, the Foundation is providing mid-day meals to more than 1.7 million children on each school day.

Akshaya Patra stepped into the social media arena around 2012. Currently, it is present on several social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

With over – 10,000 followers in Twitter

1,700,275 followers in Facebook

More than 15,000 followers in Instagram

2,790 subscribers in YouTube

The Foundation uses these platforms to share NGO news and events, share videos and photo albums, run campaigns, update supporters of recent developments and the like. The Foundation also uses blogging as a means to involve supporters with its cause. The NGO blog includes various organisation -specific topics such as events, interviews, organisational highlights etc.; child-centric topics such as food, education, health, skill development; along with global topics such as environment, child labour and the like. By far, social media presence of Akshaya Patra has helped the organisation to get identified easily, interact with supporters present across the globe, run campaigns successfully, and garner tremendous support.

In conclusion, social media has opened up numerous channels for NGOs to reach out to people. If NGOs approach the social media avenue in a planned and strategic way, it has the potential to expand its cause manifold.

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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.

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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.

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.

Quality food produced through Six-sigma methodology at Akshaya Patra

What makes Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Programme (MDMP) world’s largest serving wholesome lunch? Is it the numbers? Over 1.6 million children. Or is it the demographic? 13,636 schools across 12 states in India. What truly makes MDMP, run by a non-profit organisation, large is that the meals served have become actual incentives for children in India to attend schools and achieve academic success. Children of all these government institutions don’t skip schools because of scrumptious lunch they get to relish.

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This large-scale impact, created with the help of charity donations, was made possible by streamlining a six-sigma methodology that goes into the cooking and serving of these meals every single day. The funds raised, for Mid-Day Meal Programme, help us fill over 1.6 million stomachs every day.

MDMP is like a high-scale project of a company 

Akshaya Patra functions like a private company by ensuring quality of production and delivery. 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. The vessels used for cooking are made of 304 grade stainless steel. Well-trained cooks and supervisors ensure quality control while cooking for these kitchens run by the top NGO that’s on a mission to feed the children.

Hope stories testify quality 

Children usually have the habit of skipping lunch, so engrossed they are in their games and sports. But beneficiaries of MDMP enthusiastically have their lunch every day and the prospect of a nutritious meal encourages them to come to school regularly. Several hope stories we came across over the years testify how MDMP has influenced the lives of the children positively.

Initiatives that draw accountability  

Akshaya Patra keeps a strict policy of transparency to maintain complete accountability of the quality of meals being served. The non-profit organisation often engages in several initiatives to involve the society so people are encouraged towards charity fundraising or donations for the cause of food and education. These events publicly involve the society and hold the non-profit organisation accountable for quality. 

Innovative kitchens that set benchmarks

When 100,000 meals are cooked in a single state-of-the-art centralised kitchen, repeated experiments can make it possible. So Akshaya Patra partnered with Innovation Alchemy for scaling up its kitchens without compromising on the quality. As a result, these centralised kitchens have become a subject of study and research. They have been featured on National Geographic channel’s India’s Mega Kitchens. You can read about them in the book God’s Own Kitchen.

Donors trust MDMP

 It’s the transparency of the MDMP scheme that makes prestigious companies and trusted brands often lend a helping hand in terms of charity donations and fundraising. In April 2017, SBI foundation donated a generous amount to the non-profit organisation and would be invested towards 1250 hot insulated vessels to keep food hot for 8-10 hours. The insulated hot boxes would be distributed amongst Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Nathdwara kitchens. Apart from organisations, Akshaya Patra allows individuals to contribute smaller amounts in sponsoring a child or in simply donating for the overall cause. Due to the generous charity donations and fundraising, Akshaya Patra is able to comply with quality and hygiene standards set every day in the Mid-Day Meal Programme.

 

Feed school children this Father’s Day!

Fathers who believe in their children are those who are able to instil a strong sense of confidence among their children. Children need this. As fathers, you can feed children with values, beliefs and a sense of pride. As the world honours the spirit of fatherhood on Father’s Day, let us lend a helping hand to all those fathers who provide for their family.

Fathers Day

There are millions of children who are thankful that their fathers allowed them to go to school. These children come from humble families where there are too many mouths to feed and only few people bringing food to the plate. So a non-profit organisation in India – Akshaya Patra reaches out to help these families by feeding the children with wholesome lunch in schools. Now the fathers truly had someone to help them feed their children.

Akshaya Patra is on a mission to feed the hungry and eventually end classroom hunger. The non-profit organisation is driven by the principle – no child shall be deprived of education due to hunger. As a result, the organisation has been able to feed millions of school children by also promoting education.

This has turned out to be especially crucial in rural areas where parents cannot practically ensure that their children go to school regularly. Many of these parents are daily wage workers who may work until dusk to be able to feed the family. But when the children are motivated to attend schools due to a nutritious meal served free of cost, this solves a major part of the problem.

Feeding the children with wholesome lunch has truly turned out to be a mission of physical and mental growth of the children. Isn’t it what all fathers want for their children? You may help some of these fathers by being part of the school lunch mission. Donate to charity today.

Read our blog on Father’s Day!

How can parents prepare their child for the school year?

Children are usually both nervous and excited when going back to school after vacation. But if the parents keep their cool and help them, the children can confidently look forward to the new school year. Here are some tips to help you prepare your child:

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Make a supply list

Children dread a scolding or punishment at school over small things like lunch box, shoes or bag. Make sure you create a supply list way ahead of school and have everything ready for the first day. Your role as a parent is similar to the role of several NGOs like Akshaya Patra that are working in India for sending millions of children back to school every year.

Talk to them about their fears

Parents must be clear about what their child is dreading most about school. This will ensure that the children aren’t bullied at school and will give them the confidence to face their fears. Listen to them and ensure that they don’t suffer from separation anxiety as they get into the habit of leaving home every day.

Drop them off the first day

If possible, drop your children on the first day or first week of the school to instil a sense of protection and confidence. Throughout the time, prepare them for school, tell them about the exciting things that await them at school and what all they can do in the new school year.

Involve them for a cause

One of the best ways to make children value education is to get involved in meaningful causes such as donating for mid-day meals in India. You may choose to donate for education in India through online fundraising campaigns with Akshaya Patra. The role of this NGO is to bring dropped-out children back to school by providing them with wholesome meals. You can donate for education in India or involve your children in an online fundraising campaign so that they learn the importance of school.

As you prepare your children for another school year, remember that there are several NGOs working to play a vital role in bringing millions of children back to school. You can contribute as well by simply involving yourself in online fundraising campaign or donating online.

3 Ways Every Student Can Stay Organised!

The school year is back with the same excitement and anticipation. Aren’t you looking forward to it? But how would you spend this school year differently?

Education-for-children

We at Akshaya Patra, one of the children’s charities engaged in feeding the hungry, work for children who are excited to come back to school every year. We have some ideas for you to stay organised this year.

Write down your timetable and carry it with you

Writing down your class timetable twice can save you from a lot of hassles like late arrival or missing a class. Write down your timetable at the back of a classwork notebook and always carry it in your class. Keep one timetable always pasted on the wall of your house for reminders.

Keep your bag organised

How many times have you been rebuked in class simply because you forgot to carry your homework copy? That happens when you fail to organise your schoolbag. Now that you have already written down your timetable, make sure you keep your bag organised according to it.

Carry your daily needs

Apart from books, what do you need in your bag? Is it a handkerchief, a water bottle, a box containing pencils and pens? Make sure you carry all your daily needs in your bag. Nobody likes boys and girls who always borrow things like pencils or erasers from other students. This habit will make you self-sufficient and also help you value your belongings.

Children, now that you are back to school, make the new academic year’s resolution to always keep your things safe. There are children who cannot afford these things and often, children’s charities all over India have to work hard to get these children some basic school needs. Do you know that many organisations work to help such children?

Akshaya Patra is on a mission of feeding the hungry through its school lunch programme. If you know anyone who can contribute in this cause, do encourage them to sponsor a child, so they can help that child get both food and education. Spread the good news today.

Donate to feed children this Akshaya Tritya!

One of the most auspicious days for Hindus and Jains, Akshaya Tritiya is the birthday of Lord Parshurama and also the day when the Pandavas received the Akshaya Patra. The word ‘akshaya’ means ‘never diminishing’ and the ‘Akshaya Patra’ was a vessel that held unlimited food. This day is also when the goddess of nourishment – Annapurna Devi – was born. It is a day that celebrates plenty and prays for it – plenty of prosperity, plenty of food and plenty of success.

akshaya-trithiya

The festival is also considered to be the most fortuitous day for charity. People donate on Akshaya Tritiya as it is believed that doing so brings them a wealth of blessings. Thus, this is the perfect occasion to contribute to The Akshaya Patra Foundation, as just like the ‘Akshaya Patra’ in the Mahabharata, the NGO too provides unlimited food to children across India as part of its ‘food for education’ initiative. So, count your blessings and bring a plateful of cheer to the lives of children too with your generous contribution!

Water is an essential part of children’s nutrition

Most nutritionists recommend that children must get three meals in a day along with two parts of healthy snacks. As far as the lunch is concerned, Akshaya Patra ensures that school children get a proper diet through its Mid-Day Meal Programme. The organisation has fed over 1.6 million school children so far.

Water - Nutrition

Clean drinking water is an integral part of the Akshaya Patra school lunch menu that this top NGO serves to the children. Children are often never concerned about how much water they need for proper hydration. But water is an essential part of their daily nutrition. Water helps keeping their body temperature stable and it is responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, protects tissues and organs, soothes joints and removes waste.

Apart from meal time, children would typically drink water after playing outside and thirsting for it. It doesn’t usually strike them that they need more water. Children aged between nine and 13 need 1.6 litres/6 glasses (boys) and 1.4 litres/5 glasses (girls) of water every day. In the 14-18 age-groups, boys need to drink at least 1.9 litres/7 glasses and girls need to drink at least 1.6 litres/6 glasses per day. Apart from water, children can also be fed low-fat milk that nourishes them without giving them sugar or additives that are found in soft drinks or flavoured mineral water. Akshaya Patra encourages children to drink sufficient water after their meals. You can also play a part in this charity fundraising.

Of course, children must be taught to consume more water during hot days or if they are indulged in a lot of outdoor activities or sports. In India, the easily available drinking water is tap water. But the good news is tap water contains fluoride that helps in developing strong teeth. However, the children who go to government schools in India often don’t have access to clean tap water at their homes. We ensure that a wholesome meal apart from clean drinking water is provided to all the children going to the government schools. These children can be benefitted through charity fundraising for Akshaya Patra. Donate for an NGO today.

Get Insights on How to Make a Difference by Donating

Have you experienced the feeling of making a difference? It’s fulfilling. Many Akshaya Patra donors have helped Mid-Day Meal Programme in reaching out to millions of school children every day. Whether it’s a small or big amount, we are sure that the amount has made a big impact. Donating not only creates a positive environment for children’s future, but also ensures your good health by leaving you joyous. Incredibly!

How to make a difference by donating?

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If you have not tried donating earlier, you might be a bit skeptical about donating for a cause. What we would like to say is try something small. For example, a simple thing you can do is gift a stationery kit or an exam kit to a child who comes from an economically weak background. Here are two ways you can make a difference by donating towards children’s growth.

Sponsor a child

There are millions of Akshaya Patra beneficiaries whose responsibility could be in your hands. Out of millions of children we reach out to, you could take responsibility of one by donating Rs 950. This amount ensures the child receives mid-day meals for an entire year! Also, the good news is your donation, under section 80G of Income Tax, can get you 100% income tax exemption benefit. All you have to do is choose to sponsor a child.

Pay someone’s fees

Many children drop out of school and colleges due to the burden of fees. While the Indian Government has taken a great initiative to provide free education for children between 6 to 14 years, many children, once they move out of high school, their expenditure blocks them from studying further. You can take the responsibility to identify the person and pay his or her fees for the year! This will fulfill their dreams to learn!

What does Akshaya Patra do?

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and many other states, feeding over 1.6 million school children every day. The organisation takes pride in having encouraged millions of children, through mid-day meals, to enroll in schools and be a part of education system. What makes this organisation the world’s largest NGO-run feeding programme is noteworthy; the organisation began its humble service in the year 2000 with immense support from government, corporates, donors and many volunteers who have contributed to the cause and also donated to charity, the organisation has grown in leaps and bounds.

You can support Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Programme by donating for this cause while you also have the option to fundraise on our website.