A 2005 survey conducted in Baran district brought to fore the considerable presence of malnourished children in the area. As the population belonged to low-income nomadic tribes they were constantly on the move in search of employment which made their children forgo education. The presence of a mid-day meal kitchen was crucial and at the same time challenging. The terrain and poor road connectivity were posing hurdles in constructing a centralised kitchen unit of Akshaya Patra. That is when Akshaya Patra team came up with the idea of setting up decentralised kitchen. Baran became the first decentralised kitchen of Akshaya Patra.
With the support and approval from the village Sarpanch (head of the village), Akshaya Patra hired local women to form Women Self Help Groups. The Foundation trained these groups on cooking nutritious food, hygiene practices and following food safety measures while preparing mid-day meals for children. This set forth the momentum of service in Baran district in 2005. This year on the 25th of April Baran celebrated its 10 years of service to children and women too. It was a celebration of decade long joy, achievement and satisfaction of transforming thousands of lives.
The Baran kitchen was exemplary in terms of service because it not only served meals to children but also engaged women folk as permanent employees. It was observed that many of the school students were the children of the kitchen employees itself. This was a strong factor that motivated the cooks to prepare meals in a hygienic and nutritious way for all the children. The permanency of their job allowed their children to attend school regularly and they no more lived as migrant workers.
Agreed to the fact that challenges were a part of setting up this kitchen but the existence of it for the past 10 years is a testimony of the trust an fulfilling relationship Akshaya Patra has had with the employees, children and residents of Baran district. Today Akshaya Patra feeds 9,855 children across 101 Government schools in the region and employs 215 women in its decentralised kitchen. It also provides nutritional support to 1,695 infants across 48 Anganwadi centres in the region.
Kudos to all the employees and supporters at Baran for their unflinching commitment throughout 10 years of service!
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How much do you know about The Akshaya Patra Foundation? Here are some basic facts about the organisation to get you up to speed.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation was started in the year 2000, in Bangalore to provide the mid-day meal programme to Government school children in the region. The programme which began with feeding just 1,500 students across 5 schools in Bangalore today feeds over 1.4 million children across 10,661 Government and Government aided schools, in 10 states of India.
Akshaya Patra today runs 23 kitchens, from which 21 are centralised and two are decentralised. 11 kitchens are ISO 22000:2005 certified while the remaining are in the process of certification.
Akshaya Patra is guided by its vision which states that ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ and is working to fulfil its mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is run based on a public-private partnership model which has proved to be extremely successful. The Foundation has received numerous awards such as the CII Food Safety Awards, is a five time winner of the ICAI Gold Shield award for excellence in financial reporting resulting in Akshaya Patra joining the ICAI Hall of Fame, a five time winner of the SAFA awards and many more.
To find out everything you would like to know about The Akshaya Patra Foundation, click here.
#GivingTuesday celebrated on 2nd December globally was a big day for philanthropists all over the world and so for Akshaya Patra. Marked on the Tuesday following the American Thanksgiving day, #GivingTuesday is a day dedicated to giving generously to those in need. Conceptualised to combat the effects of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a social media movement that encourages people all over the world to give in any shape, form or amount they want.
People can choose to make a donation to a charity they like, or share an encouraging thought on an online community, or even spend some time with a friend in need. How you do it, and how much you want to give is up to you.
For NGOs and corporates globally this is a big day. Companies have made elaborate plans to run #GivingTuesday campaigns as part of their mandatory CSR (corporate social responsibility) agendas, while NGOs in turn have eagerly teamed up with corporates to gather some much needed support and funding for their cause.
In fact, Cisco whose local partner in India is The Akshaya Patra Foundation, ran a retweet race on Twitter using the following tweet: RT @CiscoLocal: Help our #GivingTuesday partner in #India @AkshayaPatra feed kids. 1 RT of this tweet=$1 in next hour #ciscohungerrelief.
In addition to this Hyatt Place Hampi awarded Akshaya Patra the 2014 Hyatt Community Grant to the amount of US$15,000 on the occasion of #GivingTueday.
It is indeed an honour for Akshaya Patra to be associated with distinguished names like Cisco and Hyatt Hotels, especially on an auspicious occasion like #GivingTuesday.