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.

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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.

Sponsor a child on World Day against Child Labour

The International Labour Organisation had launched the World Day against Child Labour in 2002 which is observed every year on June 12th. This year as the world pledges to protect children from child labour in conflicts and disasters, let us pledge to sponsor a child in order to secure his healthy upbringing and educational growth.

WDACL

The World Day against Child Labour 2017 focuses on the impact of conflicts and disasters on child labour. Around 200 million people are affected by disasters every year, of which a third are children. A major proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster. The challenge is to feed the children, protect them from mental and physical consequences of disasters and provide them with the basic necessities of life.

Child labour is equally rampant in India and several charitable organisations are striving hard to eliminate the evil through awareness and protection. A lot of these children are found working haphazard conditions and are dropped out of school due to financial responsibilities. A charitable organisation in India Akshaya Patra, thus, is trying to root out this problem through taking mid-day meals to schools. That way, the organisation is able to feed the children, thereby, luring them to attend schools. The parents, therefore, understand now that the whole challenge of feeding all their children is met by simply sending their children to schools. This has significantly raised the school attendance in government schools while also reducing the number of child workers around the country.

Many charitable organisations in India are encouraging individual donors to sponsor a child by donating a meager amount. Akshaya Patra also has a simple plan for sponsoring a child by contributing merely Rs 950/- that would help feed a child for a year. As a result, the child automatically gets education since he is motivated to come to school for his share of wholesome lunch.

One of the most efficient ways to eliminate child labour would be to eliminate the reason for child labour. These reasons are orphaned children, financial responsibilities on children due to a large number of family members to feed, dropping out of school due to disinterest, illiteracy and so on. These children are often desperately put on jobs and therefore must endure the haphazard conditions, low salaries and over-work. Charitable organisations like Akshaya Patra are engaging volunteers to feed the children and use mid-day meals as an incentive to attend schools. Several stories of hope tell the tale of the success of this approach since beneficiary children are learning the importance of education and are working hard. Many of these children are learning to have dreams and aspirations in life, they are inspiring others to study hard and are bringing their siblings to school.

This is surely a good way to eliminate both hunger among children and exploitation of children. As the world observes the day against child labour, you can choose to join the cause of feeding the children and thus indirectly impacting the cause of eliminating child labour.

Sponsor a child today. Donate for Akshaya Patra.

Earth Day 2017: Akshaya Patra’s kitchens strive for energy-efficiency

We are all children of the Earth and we return to her when our time on the planet is up. To honour all that the Earth gives us and to support the cause of environmental protection, Earth Day is celebrated all over the world on April 22 every year. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a top NGO in India, which operates the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Programme to benefit school children in the country, too is committed to the cause of environmental protection. It has undertaken many initiatives to produce its meals in the most sustainable, energy-efficient manner possible.

earth-day-poster

Three of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens that feed the children are equipped with biogas plants – the Vadodara kitchen in Gujarat and the Vasanthapura and Ballari kitchens in Karnataka. These are all ISO-certified kitchens and the kitchen at Vasanthapura also has a solar plant. The biogas plants use the waste generated during the preprocessing of vegetables prior to food preparation and leftover from the schools if any. A single biogas plant at the Akshaya Patra kitchens uses an average of 200 kg of mixed vegetable waste per day, while the food returns used amount to 500 kg a day. An average of 65.7m3 per day and the biogas used in place of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) amounts to an average of 55m3 per day. Meanwhile, the LPG equivalent generated by the biogas plant amounts to 20-23 kg per day.

The Vasanthapura kitchen in Bengaluru also has a solar plant that generates 12kw electricity per day. The electricity thus generated is used for lighting up the building and all the other single-phase power applications. Akshaya Patra’s upcoming kitchens too have been designed in such a way that they can accommodate solar panels and plans are underway to equip existing ones with them too. The Foundation also seriously undertakes water conservation efforts. Water consumption in its kitchens is reduced with the help of vegetable washing machines, rice washers, steam cooking, high-pressure jets for equipment and vehicle cleaning, vessel cleaning machines and vessel cleaning showers with tanks.

Akshaya Patra, as one of the world’s top NGOs conducts training and awareness programmes for its employees to raise awareness about water management and conservation. Wastewater generated in its kitchens is recycled. This recycled water is reused for gardening. The kitchens, besides using renewable energy such as solar energy and biogas, also harvest rainwater.

Akshaya Patra feeds over 1.6 million children in 13,577 schools in 11 states of India and strives to ensure that it does so in the most sustainable manner possible. To contribute to the Foundation’s cause of ‘food for education’, donate to charity now.

Three Important Reasons Why You Should Give Back

The word ‘Give’ in the context of ‘Giving Back’ has a very interesting meaning to it. According to Etymonline, “The Middle English noun yeve (Give), meant “that which is given or offered; a contribution of money,” often as tribute, or in expectation of something in return.”

giving-back-has-its-benefits

‘Giving back’ usually supersedes with the word society. Ever since, people realized that humanity could make a great difference, the race has been helping communities by empowering them. Similarly, Akshaya Patra has been feeding the children in India to ensure they do not experience classroom hunger.

If you have been thinking of giving back to society, now is the time! We collated three important benefits of giving back and here they are:

You will help someone grow

As an individual, you may want to give back to society by paying someone’s school fees. Many families who come from difficult background are burdened by their children’s schools fees and unable to pay, they choose to send them on work. This could be your chance to give back.

beneficiary-of-akshaya-patra

Giving back will not only help the child be a part of school system, but will also help you grow as a person. To understand the issues deeply and to step up to correct them is our responsibility and by giving back, you will have contributed to the growth of an individual, their family, and their community.

You will build stronger communities

Among many activities, Akshaya Patra regularly organises Health Awareness Programmes for school children with the help of corporates; these programmes include discussions and hygiene kit distribution.

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Kit Distribution

When we as a community go out to help another, it transforms and structures their living standards and also contributes to their health. This includes helping a community with a nursing home, a school, awareness programmes and basic infrastructure. For Akshaya Patra, a children’s charity, registered under section 80G of Income Tax Act, providing a mid-day meal is one way to empower a network a students.

And finally, you will spread happiness!

This is probably the most important reason for the giver and the receiver; happiness. The experience of giving back to society keeps you content! The inner joy of having transformed a life, without expecting returns, is a feeling that words cannot describe.

hello-new-shoes

Shoe Distribution

To experience this joy, go out and do your noble act that you’ve always wanted to do. Try visiting a school, buying stationery for a child or maybe even a pair of school shoes. The simple things in life tend to leave a curve on your face. Happiness is contagious and so is an act of giving back.

As you call it a day, think of reasons why you should give back to society and when you do, Akshaya Patra’s children will be waiting for your help.

Sponsor a child today!

National Youth Day – Youth are the Change Agents of Tomorrow

Malala Yousufzai was still in her teens when she became the change agent for the world. She chose to change her little world – Swat Valley – first that didn’t have enough freedom of education for the women and children. It cost almost her life to become one of the most revered voices for human rights advocacy today.

That’s the impact one motivated youth can make. The leadership of her youth came from an innocent thought of educating girls in her area. The world has seen the impact of this child.

empower_youth_600x400

As National Youth Day 2017 comes to a close, let us discuss how we can invest in children to create a better tomorrow.  Children can be change agents and history offers several examples right from late Anne Frank to Malala. What they really need is a healthy environment of growth, education and empowerment. How will that happen? When we feed the children with nutritious food, provide them with quality education and create an environment of learning.

Feeding the children

Studies have shown that nutritious meals have a part to play in the brain development of a child since the time he or she is an infant. Right from the mother’s milk, this nutrition journey must continue during his adolescence as well. Well-fed children are more active and alert and display a greater sense of leadership right from the childhood. Such children grow up to become able youth ready to lead their counterparts. Youth are always the reflection of the society and if they grew up in deprivation, regrets or revenge, they cannot create a healthy society. It’s important that their childhood is secured by providing them with the most basic human needs so that they become responsible youth with a great sense of accountability.

Facilitating education

Education cannot be separated from the overall development of children. So when NGOs like Akshaya Patra set out to establish more kitchens for serving mid-day meals in schools, the cause of education is further extended. For instance, as a government-partnered NGO in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, the organisation is able to feed school children who feel motivated to attend school every day. Its Mid-Day Meal Programme, in association with the government, in Andhra Pradesh has brought thousands of children to school. That way, Akshaya Patra has been able to employer the youth of tomorrow by feeding them while they are children. Educated youth are able to explore options of careers and goals easily since they have knowledge on their side.

Creating an atmosphere of learning

Along with providing mid-day meals, one of the objectives of Akshaya Patra is to ensure that children get a great learning environment. The organisation works tirelessly with the local schools checking on their attendance and finding hope stories in order to inspire other children to come to school. The scheme itself creates an environment where staff, volunteers and workers motivate children to study hard and have goals in life. Teachers are guided to be gentle so they can facilitate an amazing learning environment.

Donate for a cause

Those who wish to contribute to feed the children can be assured that their donations are investments in the youth of tomorrow.  Donate today.

Akshaya Patra – Feeding Millions of Children Every Day

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in India 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 charitable trust the world’s largest NGO-run feeding programme is noteworthy; the organisation began its humble service in the year 2000 which is now impacting millions of children. With support from government, corporates, donors and many volunteers who have contributed to the cause, the organisation has grown in leaps and bounds.

Recently, the Foundation published its NGO Annual Report for the financial year 2015-16, which gives a 360 degree understanding on the Foundation’s dedicated efforts towards India’s children. The report also exposes behind-the-scenes of Mid-Day Meal Programme; from supervisors to drives who are a part of this ever-inspiring compassionate programme.

As we march ahead into a new year, our motto to feed children nutritious food continues to be a priority. You can help us achieve our target of feeding 5 million children by 2020! Here’s how you can support Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Programme:

Sponsor a child for year

help-us-feed-more-children

Out of millions of children who we reach out to, you could take responsibility of one by donating Rs 950. By contributing this amount, you choose to sponsor the child’s 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.

Fundraise for Akshaya Patra

By creating one campaign, you can help us receive tremendous support from across the globe. In just a few simple steps, you can create a fundraising campaign on our website and share the campaign with your friends and family.

Unlock Smiles of Children

unlock-smiles

This is an initiative by Akshaya Patra to feed more children across India. Unlock Smiles gives you an opportunity to feed a child for an entire year – visit our unlock smiles page, click on a smiley and donate. Once you have unlocked a smiley, your name will appear on the smiley.

You can join Akshaya Patra in ending classroom hunger for millions of children who are victims of under nutrition. We believe no child must be deprived of education due to hunger. Today, the organisation reaches out to 1.6 million children on every school day. But you can help us reach 5 million children by 2020. Help us end classroom hunger.

Mid-Day Meal Components that define Child Nutrition

We know about nutrition and we ensure it as well. We take utmost care of our kids and provide them all the amenities. But what about those children who belong to marginalised sections who have to go to bed hungry at times, who have never had more than a quarter of chapati in their meals, whose parents are dependent on daily wages which cannot fulfil daily needs – who would take care of them?

Shouldn’t we?

Along with love, acceptance, appreciation, encouragement, and guidance; good living conditions including healthy meals are also essential for the cognitive development of children.  A diet comprising all necessary components facilitates their all-round development. A balanced intake of proteins, carbohydrates, fats etc., is mandatory for their bodies to stay healthy and minds to function well. All parents ensure this for their kids and so must we for every child who does not get a fair chance.

But it is shocking to know that India, which is developing otherwise, is a home to millions of children who are underweight. Their parents often cannot afford a healthy living. In such scenarios, should we do something to empower the children? Yes, without a second thought.

nutritious-food

Akshaya Patra, one of the top NGOs in India, has come forward to address this issue by feeding the children. We should also educate people about the importance of a healthy diet and ways to ensure it. So what are the necessary components that define child nutrition?

Calories and Proteins

According to dietary norms stated by Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme, 450 Calories and 700 Calories as well as 12 grams and 20 grams of proteins are required for Primary and Upper Primary groups respectively. The quality of meals protects children from a sluggish metabolism, low energy levels, low immunity, underweight etc. Mid-Day Meal benefits more than 1.6 million children every day!

Fats and Carbohydrates

Fats are a source of energy for the body. Besides keeping children high on energy for a long time, they also strengthen their immune system, help in absorption of vitamins, production of hormones and insulation of body. Carbohydrates also act as energy suppliers. They help in regulation of blood glucose, the breakdown of fatty acids and act as a dietary fiber. Potatoes, beans, milk, grains are rich in carbohydrates. Both these components are an essential part of child’s nutrition because they help in their vital growth and keep them energetic. Akshaya Patra ensures that the meals provided by them have the required quantity of fats and carbohydrates so as to ensure proper nutrition, energy supply, and growth of the children.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients that are required by our body to carry out several metabolic functions. Vitamin A helps maintain soft tissues, mucous membranes, healthy skin and good eyesight. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes healthy gums and teeth. It helps in the absorption of iron and promotes wound healing. There are many other vitamins like Vitamin E, K, B6, B12 that are important for the body. Like vitamins, minerals also help the body to grow, develop, and stay healthy. Minerals are used for several functions- from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are also used in the production of hormones and maintaining a normal heartbeat.

Akshaya Patra ensures that their meals are of good quality, hygienic, and include all these components. It has a mission of serving healthy meals to 5 million kids by 2020. You can make a donation in honour of someone to help children get the best diets for their growth. Let’s donate today!

Can You Feed a Child Today?

Even after gaining grounds on development in many sectors, India has been taking its own sweet time to combat against two major challenges of the present time – providing education and food to the underprivileged. According to 2016 Global Nutrition Report, 667 million children (in 129 countries) under the age of five have severe nutrition deficiencies which have resulted in: stunting, disproportion of height and weight, and overweight. Many organisations have been responsive to this but reaching the required level of pace is still a long way to go. This is where we need to realize our responsibilities towards society, donate generously to a cause, feed the children and do our bit in defeating all inhibitions to growth not as a gesture of tokenism but as a profound yearning to change the world.

Here’s how you can make a difference for children and help them to pursue their dreams by making a gift of an inexhaustible vessel of food and hope:

Why should you support Akshaya Patra?

mid-day-meal-is-a-promise

Akshaya Patra started off with 1,500 children a day which has now drastically grown to serve over 1.6 million children across 11 states of India. Seeing the splendid mid-day meal benefits, appreciations from many dignitaries including Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton, one need not have a second thought on contributing. The mission of this charitable trust is to serve 5 million children by 2020 which is achievable only if more of us care deeply about the cause and help in fundraising. Needless to mention, it is an overwhelming opportunity for us to contribute.

What can you do?

Akshaya Patra lets and urges you to help those in dire need of your sponsorship. And, you’ll be surprised to know that the amount to sponsor a child for a year almost equals a bill for two at a restaurant and so often, most of us do it fortnightly. Why not let the unfed taste some nutritious food as well? There is no better expenditure of money than donating some of it to a charitable trust who feeds the hungry. There’s so much to do and so fewer doers. Change the notion and make a donation in honour of someone!

How about the end-beneficiaries?

Mid-day meal is a strategic intervention to not only benefit children’s stomach but also to lay the foundation of a brighter India. It is a great satisfaction to hear beneficiaries like Aditya and Zinkal say that they are passionate about joining Indian army and serving the nation. Given the wings to fly, these ambitious kids would paint the sky in glory as Malala Yousafzai says, “One child, one book, and one pen can change the world.”

Do you know what the biggest threat to a needy is? It is a belief that somebody else, if not me, might help him. Embrace the humanitarian core and show that you care deeply about children who are underserved. Support us to feed the children!

10 Ingredients that make Mid-Day Meal a Healthy Eat!

The 21st century has made us more food conscious than ever. We take interest in understanding the importance of healthy food, nutrition intake, and calories and so on. To simplify the food theories, we have even created food pyramids and graphs based on age groups. Today, we all know what kind of food is acceptable for children and what isn’t.

As an NGO, Akshaya Patra aims to feed the children the right amount of mid-day meals with sufficient nutritional values. We believe mid-day meal benefits every child. Before we share our little secret on keeping children healthy, here’s a bit of history on Nutrition. The word ‘Nutrition’ means ‘nourishment’ and first originated in Latin during early 15th century. Centuries later, when hunger was identified as an issue, a prefix Mal which means ‘bad’ was used to describe poor nutritional levels – malnutrition.

For Akshaya Patra, it is important that children receive the right amount of nutrients in their food. Here’s a list of ingredients used in mid-day meals along with their nutrition value:

nutritional-value-of-mdm

 

To break the cycle of hunger among children, a country must do a lot – introduce nutritional school lunch programmes, ensure initiatives are reaching the target group, prioritise education, stabilise low-income families with subsidies and health care benefits, and many more. Akshaya Patra’s menu of mid-day meals is such that it covers the basics of nutrition intake and calories, making it one of the best diets for children!

Besides clothing and shelter, food is one of the basic needs for humans. We have reached a point in time where most of us are able to afford these basic needs however, lack of food among children continues to be a persistent issue. Let’s act to ensure children receive the two most important elements that can help them grow – food and education. Sponsor a child by donating Rs 950 and be assured that he or she will receive wholesome mid-day meals for an entire academic year!