Akshaya Patra – an NGO in India serving food for education!

When we hold a flipped coin within our palms, we can see only one side of the coin. And the visible side decides the winner of the toss. Similarly, when we look around us, we only see one side of India and conveniently ignore the other. But it’s about time we take a look on both the sides because that’s where the real solution for a progressed and developed nation is hidden!

‘Meals of hope’ served by Akshaya Patra!

Considered as the world’s largest democracy, today India is a rising economy and an emerging power. It has achieved several global laurels in almost all areas of sports, business, technology, and talent. At the same time, it is also struggling to keep up with indicators to ensure accessibility of food, health, and education for all. In a scenario like this, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in India is relentlessly striving each day to counter ill health and illiteracy with wholesome food.

Food for education

It is not an unknown occurrence that when hunger strikes even the fittest person fails to deliver his share of work. So, the question is, can we expect children to learn and perform in empty stomachs? This is where Akshaya Patra’s role become significant as it provides food for education. A large section of children in India has to constantly make a choice between work and school because hunger plays the spoiler. These children have aspirations alike any other children who are privileged to attend school without a second thought; but what amongst the former is lack of basic amenities. For such children, a free meal initiates their steps towards school.

As an NGO in India for children, Akshaya Patra is cognisant of the crucial role school meals play in schooling of children from challenging backgrounds. This meal not only fills up their stomachs but also nurtures their young minds with determination, confidence, and hope. By attending school regularly, children become ever more certain that their aspirations are achievable and that a much better and brighter future lies ahead of them. These meals support health and education of children empowering them to be resourceful and self-dependent citizens of the country.

It was in 2000 when Akshaya Patra first served food for education for 1,500 children in five schools of Bengaluru; and since then there has been no looking back. With strategic planning, operational efficiency, hygiene and cleanliness standards, and sustainable expansion, this NGO in India currently provides school meals to 17,65,597 children each school day in 12 states.

Read More : https://www.akshayapatra.org/about-us

When you step in, wonders happen!

Charity is always appreciated and when it is about providing something as basic as food to a child, it becomes dearer. When you sponsor a child, you uphold their childhood; you convey to them, ‘there’s someone who cares’. Unless we take care of children right from the grass root level, it is impossible to achieve the status of a developed nation. Quoting Mother Teresa here, she said, If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Thus, if each one of us sponsor a child, then it is indeed possible to create a New India with an universal side – healthy, educated, and prosperous!

 

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Hunger Action Month – A Campaign to Fight Hunger

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread” – Mahatma Gandhi.

Fortunately, most of us do not have to think about where our meal will come from. Either it will be prepared at home or we can order a sumptuous meal at the click of a button. But, there are many who are not privileged even to get even a square meal per day. And, the number of such people are as high as 815 million, globally. Yes, hunger is an epidemic that has spread across almost all parts of the world. And, with 190.7 million people who suffer from hunger each day, India is home to 1/3rd of world’s hungry population. This is where food providing NGO role in India becomes extremely significant.

Hunger Action Month

Hunger action month

The month of September is observed as a Hunger Action Month across many countries. The origin of it dates back to 2008 when Feeding America, a United States-based non-profit hunger relief organisation, felt the need of a nationwide participation to deal with the hunger crisis. Since then, Hunger Action Month is observed annually with the aim to spread awareness and act to end hunger. This month-long campaign is a platform for the entire community to work together and ensure access to food for needy people. 

And, the best part is, hunger is a solvable problem!

How hunger affects sustainable development

Food is the basic need for survival for any living being. It provides the required energy to do all activities – physical and cognitive. When the stomach is empty, the only thought that clouds the head and heart is, food! In general, hunger leads to low immunity, deprived health, malnourishment, and delayed growth and development.

Hence, as an intervention several NGOs have taken up food as the core cause of their service, and The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO for children in India is one among them. Akshaya Patra has been in the service of providing nutritious meals to children since 2000. It implements the Mid-Day Meal Scheme across 12 states of the country and strives to eliminate classroom hunger to support education. Akshaya Patra’s cause is in sync with two Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations i.e. Zero Hunger and Quality Education. Classroom hunger leads to:

  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Low levels of learning
  • Low academic performance
  • Lack of interest in school activities

Inferencing from the above-mentioned, it becomes evident that hunger poses as a major hurdle in sustainable development and progress of a country and the global community as a whole.

How can Hunger Action Month aid in improving Global Hunger Index

Global Hunger Index is a multidimensional statistical tool to measure the hunger status of countries across the world. The scores on this scale indicates the progress and failures in the fight against hunger globally. Remaining specific to India,

India ranks 100 among 119 countries in Global Hunger Index 2017. It has been categorised under the ‘serious’ range.

But, Hunger Action Month gives an opportunity to improve the hunger scores at a global level and at a national level. As a food-based NGO for children, Akshaya Patra campaigns for Hunger Action Month annually and urges supporters to generously participate in the campaign with the sole intention of creating a sustainable solution for hunger. When children are well-nourished and well-educated, they will grow up to be healthy, skilled, and resourceful citizens. Such citizens not only add prosperity to the family but also to the entire nation. Thus, there is a direct correlation between number of resourceful citizens and hunger index.

Conclusion

As a wrap, it is important to note that hunger is the number one cause of death in the world. This crisis can be dealt effectively only when the entire community actively gets involved to fight against the epidemic called hunger. 

This September, donate to end hunger. Your donation will enable Akshaya Patra to feed more children thereby increasing its present reach of 1.76 million children. You have the power to end hunger, use it by supporting school meals of children.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one” – Mother Teresa.

The Dance of Hunger!

Do you know what it feels like to be starving? Have you felt the cramps in your stomach when it’s empty? Whether or not, you have experienced this, lakhs of children across India live this reality each day! Akshaya Patra, an NGO is striving committedly to alter this reality for these children.

Dance of hunger

When was the last time you did not receive or eat your meal on time? When was the last time you got those hunger cramps in your stomach? When was the last time you really had to go out of your way to get some food? How did you feel when your stomach was empty?

All these questions may either seem relevant to you or it may be completely irrelevant to you. But, the point is, lakhs of children across India wake up to hunger and go back to sleep in hunger! These children are living each day without the assurance of something as basic as food. At a tender age, their mind and heart revolve around the worry of ‘Will I get something to eat today?’ At a time when they should be playing, making friends, attending school, exploring and learning new things, their childhood is spent in looking for ways to quieten the hunger pangs. So, are we doing anything to liberate these children from this grim situation?

Read more: https://medium.com/@akshayapatraindia/the-dance-of-hunger-e720b9136a37

An NGO in Ahmedabad Supporting Hopes of Children

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an Indian NGO implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme across 12 states of India, and Gujarat is one among them. The Foundation is headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka and made its foray into Gujarat in 2009. Since then, strategically, it has expanded its reach across five locations in the state as an NGO in Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Vadodara, Surat, and Kalol. Currently, the Foundation is providing meals to 4,07,452 children in 1,621 government schools across the state.

NGO in Ahmedabad

Akshaya Patra is providing mid-day meal in Gujarat from its five centralised kitchens located in Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Vadodara, Surat, and Kalol. Each of these kitchens strictly adheres to hygiene and cleanliness practices while preparing meals and ensure that the cooked meals are nutritious, tasty, and hygienic. And, so that children readily consume the meals, the kitchen follows a locally palatable menu.

Akshaya Patra is cognisant of the fact that in most cases food brings children to school. It is an incentive for parents to send their children to school with the hope that their children will receive at least one stomach full of meal a day. And, once children are at school, they also receive education empowering them to become resourceful and independent in the future. Thus, while providing regular mid-day meals in the existing schools, Akshaya Patra, as an NGO in Ahmedabad, also strives to extend its service to other locations of the state.

By providing mid-day meal in Gujarat, Akshaya Patra is not only supporting health and education of children but is also upholding dreams of millions of children. Here is an anecdote of one of the beneficiaries:

Mayur - Akshaya Patra Beneficiary

Mayur Kanaji Thakor, a bright student of Golvanta Primary School, Gujarat aspires to be a doctor. He comes from a family of four with his father as the sole breadwinner earning a monthly income of Rs. 6,000. But, this not-so-privileged economic background has not deterred Mayur’s determination and he is confident that he will achieve his dream. An Akshaya Patra beneficiary, Mayur’s favourite food at school is Dal-Dhokli. Read the full story of Mayur here.

There are many more such dreams and they are all waiting for a little support from you. Hence, Akshaya Patra gives you a platform to be a part of young yet determined dreams of millions of children. You can support meals and hopes of children by choosing to donate to charity. Your contribution to Akshaya Patra will be diligently used in providing wholesome meals to children thereby empowering them with health and education. Feed a child, nourish a hope!

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.

Do Donations Make an Impact for Our 1.6 Million Children?

When reaching out to 1.6 million children, every donation and contribution is crucial – for the organisation to function sustainably and for children to benefit from Food for Education initiative. Know why your donation matters.

our-reach-make-an-impact

Post-Independence era made us debate issues that were burdening the country at every level. Among several issues that cripple the growth a nation, one of them continues to be illiteracy and lack of food security. To tackle these issues, the Government of India proposed free education in government schools and ration for BPL families. One of the key solutions is Mid-Day Meal Scheme for school children to end classroom hunger and encourage education.

Mid-Day Meal Programme by Akshaya Patra is run with support from fundraisers, Central Government and State Governments. This programme which currently reaches out to over 1.6 million children across 11 states benefits the nation by:

Improving the nutritional status of children in class I-V in Government, Local Body and Government aided schools, and EGS and AIE centers.

Encouraging children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend school more regularly and help them concentrate on classroom activities.

Providing nutritional support to children of primary stage in drought affected areas during summer vacation.

And most importantly, this initiative aims to transform children’s lives.

infograph-on-our-reach

To operate the programme on every school day, every contribution becomes a key component. For example, Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Andhra Pradesh and Telangala reach out to more than 1 lakh children; with four centralised kitchens in total, the programme is able to make a great difference in the lives of young ones. And in places where setting up a centralised kitchen is not feasible, Akshaya Patra has made created a network of decentralised kitchens; Mid-Day Meal Programme in Nayagarh, Odisha is run with the help of decentralised kitchens and over 300 schools are benefitted by the programme.

Your decision to sponsor a child’s meals for a year will have an incredible and a long-term impact on the child’s life. Make an impact today. To know our children’s stories, you can visit our website.

10 Healthy Eating Habits for Children by Akshaya Patra

National Nutrition Week has ended on the 2nd week of September. Before we can wrap up our series on Nutrition, we would like to talk about ten healthy eating habits that must be inculcated among children.

Dictionaries define nutrition as “the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.” Unfortunately obtaining food for health and nutrition worldwide has proved to be tougher challenge than it was perceived. Providing healthy food for children is a concern that transcends geographical boundaries. Fresh and healthy food is a basic right of every child, and there is a need to make sure that they get it every day.

healthy-eating-habits

  1. Balanced diet

Children need to be taught early that nothing is tastier than a complete nutritious meal. One of the objectives of mid-day meal at Akshaya Patra is to provide a balanced diet to the children as a healthy eating habit.

  1. Praying before eating

We count it as a healthy eating habit. Akshaya Patra wishes to educate children apart from feeding them. One of our practices is to ensure that the children say their prayers before starting to eat food. This helps them realise the value of food and that they should be thankful to the Almighty for providing them with food.

  1. Eating together

Families must eat together at home and friends must have lunch together at school. There’s nothing more joyous than enjoying a great meal together, discussing about taste and favourite foods. At Akshaya Patra, eating together fulfills our objective of supplying mid-day meal in a healthy environment.

  1. Eating slowly

It’s vital to have the habit of eating slowly as it helps in controlling weight. This ensures that they chew their food properly leading to better digestion. Eating fast causes obesity. Studies have shown that nearly 60 percent of overweight children aged 5 to 17 had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 25 percent had two or more. Also, obese kids have an 80 percent chance of staying obese their entire lives.

  1. Attractive foods

Another healthy eating habit is to include colourful foods, vegetables and fruits in children’s meals. This encourages children to enjoy food and look forward to meals.  At Akshaya Patra, we prepare a variety of food for children to ensure that they really enjoy the experience of having mid-day meal at school.

  1. Water instead of concentrated drinks

In modern day meals, we have got into the habit of consuming concentrated juices or cold drinks or soda instead of water. While fresh juices do have some merit, most preserved juices have more calories than we know.  But water should be the choice during meals for children since it boosts immune system and digestion.

  1. Learning when to stop

Another healthy food habit is knowing when your stomach is full. Toddlers and younger kids find it hard to understand the signals that their stomach sends to their brain. Children should be taught signs of fullness clearly from the time they learn to eat their own food.

  1. Healthier snacks

Today, there are several varieties of snacks available for children, many of which are not healthy. Snacks such as fried foods, packaged foods, noodles, potato chips etc are readily available but are far from healthy. As a healthy eating habit, children must be taught to consume fruits, juices, nuts etc. as alternative snacks.

  1. Less sugar and salt

At Akshaya Patra, the amount of sugar and sweets is an important parameter of a nutritious diet. While we always send extra salts with our transport vans, we teach the children to avoid using too much salt and sugar in their meals. Salt and sugar are the leading causes of heart-related diseases as adults and must be cut down right from the childhood.

  1. Discouraging eating meals before TV

Eating dinner or lunch before television is a common practice among modern families. However, this kills the joy of eating and distracts children from truly savouring their meals. Children often complain of hunger afterwards if they have consumed their meals while watching TV.

There are millions of children still who don’t get healthy food. They need to be reached and fed. We encourage you to donate to NGO towards unlimited food for education so that we are able to take our mid-day meals to more and more children.

Akshaya Patra Serving Health and Well-Being in Schools

The major drawback in India is that children from low-income families are not entitled to proper education for lack of food. The children tend to remain hungry as their parents cannot afford them a meal. For them, a square meal is more important than acquiring education. So they accompany parents to work places. As a result, attendance has dropped down and drop-outs have increased.  It is estimated that more than 50% of Indian children drop out of the schools at primary level.  Unfortunately, India shares 34% percent of the world’s illiterate population.

school2blogo

Without education a child can never progress. Understanding the link between education and nutrition, Akshaya Patra serves unlimited food for education keeping their growth requirements in mind. The meals are delivered with proper nutrition; quality, prescribed calories and safety. Adequate supply of micro nutrients as iron, folic acid, zinc, fibre, essential fatty acids, calcium, carbohydrates, protein vitamin A are supplemented through the mid-day meals. During lunch servings; roti, rice, rice khichadi, curd rice, vegetable pulao, mixed vegetable curry, sambar, dhal, rasam etc. are served. The sambar and curries contain lots of vegetables which have essential nutrients that are required for the adequate growth of children. The rice and wheat served meets adequate standards as prescribed by The Government of India.  Every meal served is warm, fresh, nutritious and ready to eat. So hunger, which is an obstacle to children’s health, education and survival are tackled by the nutritious mid-day meals.

keeping-up-with-gujarat25e225802599s-growth-spurt

The mid-day meal solves two of the critical United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The first is to End Poverty and Hunger and second is to achieve Universal Education. Food for education solves the obstacle of hunger that is a hindrance for education and health.

Hunger hinders a child’s learning process. Let no child miss the opportunity to attend school for the lack of food.  Let us donate for the NGO so that it can reach out to more children.  Let us work together to serve children and end class room hunger. It takes just Rs. 750 to feed a child for a year! Every donation of Rs. 500 or above made to Akshaya Patra is eligible for 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80 G of the Indian Income Tax.

Feed the Children to Promote Healthy Living

Think of healthy food

Have you ever considered why children should eat healthy food? The answer is simple: childhood is one of the most important stages in life and following a proper, nutritious diet is crucial for remaining healthy later in life.

A healthy diet, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is one which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains like unprocessed wheat, rice. The experts also recommend eating at least 400 grams or 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day.  A healthy diet can help improve cognitive development in children and can also protect them against malnutrition, obesity, diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

In India, millions of children lack access to a single healthy meal a day. There are NGOs all over the country that works tirelessly to combat this. One of them is The Akshaya Patra Foundation, children NGO that has been providing unlimited food for school children in India since 2000.

Gujarat Children NGO

The NGO for Children has brought rays of hope to over a million underserved youngsters in India.  Starting the journey by feeding 1,500 children in Bengaluru, Akshaya Patra at present delivers nutritious and tasty meals to over 1.4 million children from 10,845 schools in 24 locations across 10 states in India. The meals prepared by the foundation contain the vital nutrients required for growth.

To feed the children, the organisation depends on support from the Government of India, corporates and donors.  People from across the world come forward to feed the children. The organisation accepts donation both in the form of money and kind. An interesting fact about Akshaya Patra is that it takes just ₹750 to sponsor a child for a whole year.  An additional incentive to sponsor a child is the opportunity to save on tax. Well-wishers who contribute ₹500 or above are eligible for 100%tax exemption under section 35 AC!

Although Akshaya Patra has made great progress in the past 15 years, the Foundation’s mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020. So Sponsor a child and enjoy the joy of giving!