Know the Importance of Food and Nutrition

Have it ever come into your mind why we give so much importance to food and nutrition?

The answer is simple: food gives the energy to work plus grow. Also without food nobody can survive. Nutrition is equally important as food. Our body requires micronutrients like vitamins, minerals in small quantities and macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fat in large quantities. These nutrients help the body in different ways and a deficiency of any of them can affect proper functioning of the body and can even lead to death.

That is why doctors always recommend a healthy, balanced diet for both adults and children.

healthy-food

When we talk about the importance of nutrition and balanced diet, another question pops up-what is a healthy food? Any food item which can help stay healthy including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy products, nuts, seafood, meat and egg is considered as healthy.  On the other hand, a balanced diet involves consuming only the right amount of food required for a healthy body weight and taking different types of foods in the right proportion. A balanced diet, thus will be high in fruits and vegetables; starch (potatoes, rice, bread, pasta); protein (meat, fish, lentils), dairy products (milk) and will be low in salt, sugar and fat.

Balanced diet has been known to protect against many chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease and diabetes in adults. Similarly, food and nutrition has a critical role in a child’s life. A balanced diet helps brain development, improves concentration, boosts self-confidence, keeps bones strong, fights obesity, improves immunity and keeps diseases away.

However, unfortunately, everyone in the world does not have the opportunity to eat healthy. About 870 million people around the globe fight hunger every day and are at higher risk of malnutrition, stunting, wasting and death.

Deficiencies of vitamin A, iron and zinc have found their places among the top ten leading causes of death in developing countries.  It is concerning to know that nearly two billion people are affected with micronutrient deficiency, mainly deficiency of vitamins and minerals.

Iron deficiency is known to cause brain damage in children and pose heart risk in adults. Similarly, a deficiency in vitamin A in children can lead to blindness and increase the risk of dying from measles, malaria or diarrhoea. An iodine deficiency during pregnancy can lead to poor mental health in babies, stillbirth, abortion, and mental retardation in adults.  Also a zinc deficiency in children can affect proper growth, immunity and cause death.

Food for education

All these years, some international organisations like UN, WFP, UNICEF have been trying to end this problem.  In India, we, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, have been fighting hunger and malnutrition since 2000 by delivering nutritious mid-day meals to government school children. Our mid-day meals contain all the nutrients required for children’s healthy growth.

Over 1.4 million children have benefitted out of our Mid-Day Meal Programme. However, millions of children still require our help. So create awareness about the importance of nutrition with us and help us provide food and nutrition to more children across India.

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The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s 15 years of service

15 anniversary

With the vision ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’, The Akshaya Patra Foundation set forth its journey in June 2000. It began implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme by feeding just 1,500 children in five government schools of Bengaluru city. Over the service of 15 years the beneficiary of the NGO has increased to nearly 15 lakhs and it is operational in 24 locations across 10 states of India. As The Akshaya Patra Foundation gets ready for celebrating 15 years of service towards children, it acknowledges the support and aid it has received from generous and sympathetic supporters like you.  It also acknowledges that without the philanthropic support that the Foundation has received over the years such a leap in beneficiary base and operational expansion would not have been possible. We express our heartfelt gratitude to all of you for having journeyed with us for over a decade.

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In order to further the potential and reach of the Mid-Day Meal Programme, Akshaya Patra brings together dedication, technological innovation, standard operational processes and good governance into practice. The amalgamation of all these elements allows the Foundation to serve clean, hygienic, freshly cooked nutritious meal to lakhs of children every day across all locations. To get a quick review of the past 15 years and the distance we have covered in reaching our mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020, join us in celebrating 15 years of service through which lakhs of underserved children received the goodness of food and much needed education.

Food for Education for the Girl Child

Every year, 11 October is observed as International Day of the Girl Child. The theme for 2015 isThe Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030’, in recognition of the importance of investing in adolescent girls’ empowerment and rights, both today and in the future. It is to supports more opportunity for girls. The philosophy is to increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. We are talking about inequality such as right to education, nutrition, and many more.

Education for Girl

This is a modern world where every citizen is considered free and equal. But is it so? Empowerment of and investment in girls, is critical to see a better, balanced world as soon as we all like to see. And without your participation it’s going take longer than needed.

Food for education

Akshaya Patra runs the mid-day meal programme providing access to nutritious food to schools children whether they are boys, girls or coming from any caste or creed. The sense of equality is imbibed into every child as they are equally taken care of. The meal serves as an incentive to get education too. Girls can be empowered with knowledge as are nourished as well. This programme of The Akshaya Patra Foundation needs everyone’s support so more girls get food for education every day and one day we do see a better tomorrow where everyone is equally empowered and enlightened. Together we can contribute towards empowering girls by upholding their right to food, education, health, safety and dignity.

When we observe the next International Day of the Girl Child, the status should show a positive sign. Are you game?


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Akshaya Patra applies technology to run the mid-day meal programme

There are several advancements in technology that has indeed made our lives easy but how much of these development can benefit society from a three sixty degree view. Technology has indeed made impactful interventions but are we able to harness enough to benefit all?

Talking about mid-day meal we can have a distinct view on its applications and benefits. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is one of the largest free school lunch programme initiated by the Government of India. It is to ensure that children receive nutritious meals and can concentrate on studies rather than on earning a square meal. It is to tackle classroom hunger and promote education. In order to implement this, there are kitchens across the country to run the programme. As these kitchens have to cater to thousands and millions of children every day, they are categorised as centralised kitchens and decentralised kitchens. Centralised kitchens are mechanised kitchens equipped for mass production of mid-day meal and they also act as nodal kitchen for a set of schools in a particular region. This model of kitchens is viable and largely seen in urban areas.

Akshaya Patra Centralized Kitchen

Signs of technological intervention are a sure sight in all the kitchens of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. A walk into any kitchen unit of the Foundation will give a well maintained factory-like feel. A closer look will reveal that it is a kitchen that bustles up every morning to prepare thousands and millions of meal. Right from huge rice cauldrons beginning with 500 litres cooking capacity and dal cauldrons with capacity of 1,200 litres to 3,000 litres of dal, there are mechanised roti making machines that can roll out 200,000 rotis from 6,000 kilograms of wheat flour. Not just for cooking, Akshaya Patra also utilises technology in storage and delivery process. There are cold storages in each kitchen to store ready-to-cook cut vegetables to retain freshness. For delivering the cooked food, the NGO makes use of custom-made insulated vehicles to control temperature loss so that freshness of the cooked meal remains intact till it is served to the children. In order to ensure safety and on-time delivery, methods like logistic charting for route optimization and GPRS are adopted and implemented in the kitchens.

Akshaya Patra Mega Kitchen

There many more applications of technology that have helped in continuous increase of productivity, enhanced quality and improved service. These interventions have also potentially affected sustainability of each kitchen allowing the Foundation to increase its beneficiary base. Yet, Akshaya Patra continues to explore newer avenues to further advance its capacity of feeding millions of children and move forward in eradicating classroom hunger.


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What drives people to connect and contribute to a NGO?

What is the NGO all about? What does it do? Is it making a difference? How is it using funds in what it does? Why is it doing, what it does? Can it be trusted? These are a few of the palpable questions in one’s mind before making decision to act upon supporting a NGO.

Food for Education

As Akshaya Patra, as a world renowned NGO, what is the impact we are generating to make people act and help it make a change? What is our identity? It says we run the world largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme. The answer itself gives birth to many more questions which need to be answered. Are we building a personal connect with the people? When we say we are feeding millions of children in an effort to eliminate classroom hunger. When we say we nourish minds and nurture dreams. When we say we provide unlimited food for education. Are those enough to paint a real picture?

Questions need to be answered at the right time with the right information so the organisation stands out amongst other. Many people support because they connect with the work Akshaya Patra does. Helping children every day with nutritious food, yes! It builds that connection with many people. But there are others who look in for more before they decide to lend a hand. Some try to find out what’s in for them. One may say,

Yes! I am making a difference in children’s lives for the better is good enough for me.”

Or the fact that one get 100% tax exemption when one makes a donation above rs.500 make a positive impact to react. Or issues The Akshaya Patra Foundation is constantly trying to mitigate make one extend a helping hand. Some people asked about how the funds are spent, and Akshaya Patra has proper and unadulterated answers which make people get a clear picture. That does make a good impression. Akshaya Patra is the only NGO to be inducted in the ICAI Hall of Fame for winning the Gold Shield Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting five years in a row. That shows the commitment the organisation has on being transparent.

Donate for Charity

Akshaya Patra as an NGO in India needs to answer any and every questions related to its work and cause because that is what will drive people to connect and contribute to the organisation.


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Charity and festivity

donate to charity

India is known for its varied culture and festivities. Aside the regular festivals it is also a destination for splendid weddings and receptions. Not just Indians but foreign nationals too choose India to be the address for their weddings. Behind the brighter appearance of these celebrations and festivals, there exists a gripping reality of enormous food wastage and concerning hunger struck population.

To slightly mitigate the two stark situations, there are NGOs that work towards procuring the left-over food of the celebrations and distribute among the needy. However, this does not provide a permanent solution to the hunger situation prevailing in the country. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a NGO that implements the mid-day meal programme across Government schools in India. This Foundation prepares fresh and nutritious meals for Government school children. It also provides meals at Anganwadi centres under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Akshaya Patra has observed that to tackle the critical situation of hunger it has to be dealt with at the root cause i.e. poverty. Thus, by providing mid-day meal to children it also incentivises the child to attend school regularly which in turn allows the child to receive education. In line with this, Akshaya Patra ensures that the meal served should meet the local palate of the children.

Having been implementing the midday meal programme well over a decade, Akshaya Patra has amply gauged the potential of societal involvement in countering hunger and promoting education thereby resulting in eradication of poverty. Thus Akshaya Patra has made available the platform to volunteer and contribute in all possible ways. One of the ways to get involved with the activities of the Foundation is to make a charity during festivals and celebrations like weddings, birthdays, success parties and the like. As we gear up for celebrations, more often than not we miss out to consider our counterparts who struggle each day to get a plateful of meal. Remaining sensitive to the basic need of food, you can choose to make a donation for the underserved children as you revel in your festivity.

Your contribution will be a gift for the millions of children who too hopes to on day break the shackles of poverty, hunger and illiteracy.

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Impact of mid-day meal on growing children

Over the years, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme has proved itself to be a supporting pillar in the overall development of children even at the grass root level of the society. The Scheme that was initiated by Government of India is being implemented by various Non-Governmental Organisations too. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one among the various NGOs. Akshaya Patra began providing school lunch at five Government schools in Bengaluru city of Karnataka in 2000. This was even before the official central mandate in 2003 by the Government of India to provide free cooked mid-day meal at all Government schools. But after the mandate was passed, Akshaya Patra partnered with the Government of India in providing cooked meals at schools. Since then, Akshaya Patra has been working in a Public-Private Partnership model to achieve the six objectives of the Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme i.e.:

Mid day meal scheme

  • Eliminating classroom hunger
  • Increasing school enrolment
  • Increasing school attendance
  • Improving socialization among castes
  • Addressing malnutrition, and
  • Women empowerment

During the course of implementing the mid-day meal programme for 15 years now, Akshaya Patra has also conducted impact studies of the programme in association with noted research organisations. The Akshaya Patra kitchen process and operations has also become a part of prestigious institutes like Harvard Business School. Below are mention of few impact studies that clearly showcase the significance and potential of the mid-day meal programme in eliminating classroom hunger, improving child health and also increasing enrolment and concentration of children.

Feed the children

  • ‘Assessment of Mid-Day Meal Programme In 8 States’ by Sigma Research and Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
  • ‘Impact Assessment Study Report of The Akshaya Patra Foundation – HPCL Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects (2012-13)’ by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
  • ‘Report on Measuring the Impact of Mid- Day-Meal on Child Growth’ by Department of Public Health Manipal University
  • ‘Evaluation of the Mid-Day Meal Programme – June 2012’ by Kusuma Trust U.K.
  • ‘Impact study 2012’ by Edumedia
  • ‘Impact Assessment of The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s Mid-Day Meal Programme 2010’ by A.C. Nielsen
  • ‘Akshaya Patra: Feeding India’s School Children’ by Harvard business school

A click on Akshaya Patra Impact Studies will take you to the details of each of the above mentioned studies. To support Akshaya Patra, donate online to charity.

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Bollywood Star Ranveer Singh campaigns for Akshaya Patra!

Since inception in June 2000, Akshaya Patra has seen involvement of people from all walks of life towards the noble cause of feeding children. Akshaya Patra always provides a platform for existing supporters as well as invites new supporters to get involved in nation building through feeding the young hearts. Over the years of implementing the mid-day meal programme, Akshaya Patra has witnessed that each meal has its own story and each beneficiary has his or her own special dream. Thus the Foundation has always thrived to provide quality, hygienic and tasty mid-day meal each day to each of the beneficiaries.

NGO in India

Currently, Akshaya Patra is operational in 24 locations of 10 states. Each day, Akshaya Patra feeds mid-day meal to more than 1.4 million children across Government schools. It aims to feed 5 million children by 2020. The task indeed is humongous but not unattainable. Working towards the mission, Akshaya Patra welcomes participation from each member of the country. The participation could be in the form of skill, time, funds, awareness creation or even volunteering. The recent partnership with Ching’s Secret is an exemplary one as it has brought in Ranveer Singh, the Brand Ambassador of Ching’s Secret and popular Bollywood Star to campaign for Akshaya Patra.

Ranveer has been actively involved in the planning and execution of the campaign called ‘India Ke Hunger Ki Bajao’. The campaign aims to feed at least 1 million children across the country. Ranveer’s sincere support towards the children was witnessed as he offered his support to 10,000 children and sponsored their mid-day meals for an entire year at the launch of the campaign. Along with Akshaya Patra beneficiaries as Ranveer appeals in this video it just takes 10 seconds and a minimum amount of Rs. 750 to feed a child for an entire year. This amount has the potential to nourish and change the life of millions of young citizens. The campaign will receive broadcast in television, radio and digital platforms. It is also being supported by well-known brands like Yash Raj Films, India TV, Red FM, Reliance Fresh, Patel Bros., Paytm, Choitrams and Fluence.

Managing Director of Capital Foods (Ching’s Secret’s parent company), Ajay Gupta opines that it’s time to give back to the society and education of children will definitely lead to a better future of the country. Ranveer Singh too adds that he loves kids and being able to be involved with the cause of Akshaya Patra gives him immense joy. He believes that being the role of Indian youth, he will be able to spread the message and bring in maximum participation for the cause.

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Akshaya Patra inaugurates 200,000 meal capacity kitchen in Ahmedabad!

 

Akshaya Patra Inaugurates 20000o meal capacity kitchen in Ahmedabad

Continuing its trend of constant innovation and improvement, The Akshaya Patra Foundation inaugurated its Ahmedabad kitchen in Gujarat on 03 August, 2014.

Replacing the kitchen in Gandhinagar, this kitchen is spread over two acres of land, and is one of the largest kitchens in India. The inauguration was attended by the Honourable Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, as well as Vasuben Trivedi, MOS – Women and Child Development, Government of Gujarat.

This kitchen is equipped to produce up to 200,000 meals in five hours, and feeds 121,508 children across 666 schools in the districts of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. The kitchen following the centralised model utilises modern machinery ensuring excellent efficiency and large scale cooking.

The Ahmedabad kitchen which is ISO 22000:2005 certified, includes a full-scale bakery that can produce wheat items, has been constructed over three floors and uses the gravity flow system while cooking the mid-day meals.

This kitchen is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery and cooking vessels to ensure tasty, safe and sufficient food to the children benefitting from the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme. The kitchen is fitted with Steam Generating Boilers with a capacity of 2000 kgs, a roti making machine, 7 stage rice cleaning machine, as well as rice and dal silos.

This kitchen has been constructed through the donation of some esteemed well-wishers. Chimanlal Agrawal & family, and Nandlal Agrawal & family donated the land for the project, while the Hans Foundation donated towards the capital expenditure, kitchen equipment and vehicles, and the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) co-sponsored the undertaking by donating kitchen equipment.

Speaking of her support towards The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Anandiben Patel said, “I strongly believe the mid-day meal from The Akshaya Patra Foundation will fulfill the goal of making Gujarat free of malnutrition. I hope the healthy and nutritious food provided to children from Akshaya Patra will build healthy minds and body. The Gujarat government is eager to support Akshaya Patra’s activities to build a strong society and a strong nation. I wish success to all the people working in the new centralised kitchen of The Akshaya Patra Foundation.”

This kitchen marks another milestone in Akshaya Patra’s mission to feed 5 million children by 2020.

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Sharing a wealth of knowledge for the 3rd State Human Development Report, 2014

Sharing a wealth of knowledge for the 3rd State Human Development Report, 2014

The Akshaya Patra Foundation was invited to be an expert group member as part of the workshop conducted in March 2014, by the Karnataka State Planning Department, in association with the UNDP-Planning Commission to bring the third state Human Development Report 2014 under the project of ‘Human Development: Towards Bridging Equalities.’ Continue reading