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Akshaya Patra is an object from Hindu mythology which means an inexhaustible vessel. The first reference of Akshaya patra comes in the Mahabharata when Lord Surya gave this vessel to Yudhishthira which had a never-ending supply of food for the Pandavas.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation was founded by his divine grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, when he saw a group of group children fighting with stray dogs over scraps of food. This heartbreaking incident led to the birth of the Akshaya Patra foundation with the aim that no child within a radius of 10 miles from there centre should be hungry.

With the vision that “ no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.”

The foundation started the mid-day meal programme in June 2000 by serving mid-day meals to 1,500 children across five government schools in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

A humble beginning, yet, the initial days of implementing the programme were not smooth sailing. Soon came the helping hands of Mohandas Pai, who took the initiative of donating the first vehicle to transport food to the schools; and Abhay Jain, who promised to bring in more donors to contribute for the further expansion of the programme.

In partnership with the Government of India and various State Governments, as well as philanthropic donors; the organisation is running the world’s largest Mid-Day Meal Programme.

Built on a Public-Private Partnership model, Akshaya Patra combines good management, innovative technology, and smart engineering to deliver nutritious and hygienic school lunch on every school day.

Over a period of time, a visible improvement in the health of the children was witnessed along with increased enrollment, steady attendance and better concentration during class hours.

Once the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was mandated centrally by the Government of India in 2003, Akshaya Patra partnered with the Government to serve cooked meals at all Government schools. This Partnership works towards meeting the following objectives:

  • Eliminating classroom hunger
  • Increasing school enrolment
  • Increasing school attendance
  • Improving socialisation among castes
  • Addressing malnutrition, and
  • Women empowerment
  • To improve primary education and counter classroom hunger the

To improve primary education and counter classroom hunger the Government of India has developed two of the most significant programmes-

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA); and
  • Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)

Through the flagship programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Government of India aims to achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, by making available free and compulsory education to the children aged between 6–14 years.

Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi Distribution meals to school children

However, the socio-economic scenario of India did require an incentive to further the SSA initiative. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme came by as an answer. The MDMS focuses on providing free school lunch at all Government schools in order to enhance enrollment, retention and attendance among children and also simultaneously to improve their nutritional levels.

It was a noteworthy initiative as the impact of this Scheme was progressively seen across the country. A total of around 11 crore children across 12 lakh schools are benefiting from the MDMS programme.

Akshaya Patra implements the Mid- Day Meal programme in 39 locations of 12 states of India. Each day the Foundation feeds 1.7 million children covering more than 14,702 Government schools. The Foundation follows both centralised and decentralised kitchen formats to implement the programme. It also serves as a Member of the National Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (NSMC) for the Mid-Day Meal Programme.

The Akshaya Patra Kitchen Infrastructure will give an overview of its compliance with Food Safety and Quality Standards while preparing the meals.

12 centralised kitchens of the Foundation are ISO 22000:2005 certified and the remaining are in the process of getting certification. Working in partnership with the Central Government and various State Governments, along with the support of numerous philanthropists Akshaya Patra strives to feed 5 million children by 2020.

As an extension of its vegetarian philosophy, Akshaya Patra does not provide eggs in its MDMS programmes but by incorporating alternatives such as milk & bananas – It provides meals that are prepared scientifically and with required nutritional value.

The food distributed by Akshaya Patra is perceived to be “hygienic, nutritious and delicious”.

Apart from the mid-day meal programme Akshaya Patra implements other feeding and socio-developmental initiatives too. Some of the programmes are:

  • Feeding Programmes
  • Socio-developmental Initiatives
  • Anganwadi feeding
  • After class tuitions
  • Feeding expecting and lactating mothers
  • Life skills programme
  • Feeding programmes in special schools
  • Community health camps
  • Subsidised lunch for the economically backward
  • Scholarship programmes
  • Feeding runaway children
  • Health check-up camps
  • Feeding programmes in old-age homes
  • Feeding the homeless
  • Disaster relief

Apart from the above initiatives, the Foundation also works towards social initiatives like: –

  • After class tuitions
  • Community health camps
  • Health check-up camps
  • Life-skills programmes
  • Scholarship programmes

In general, surveys show that since the implementation of the Mid-day Meal Programme by the Government and various NGOs, there has been an upward surge in school enrolment and attendance of the children. Studies also indicate that this programme has been able to reduce the drop-out rate.

The impact of the mid-day meal has been witnessed in all the serving locations of Akshaya Patra.

Recent awards :-

  • Nikkei Asia Prize 2016 in the ‘Economic and Business Innovation’ category
  • Platinum award at the AVA Digital Awards 2016 competition for Giving Every Dream A Chance Video
  • Ranked 58th out of the 100 Best Annual Reports of 2014, in the ARC 100 Gallery by MerComm Inc.
  • Gold under the ‘Foundation’ category of Non-Traditional Annual Reports in the ARC Awards 2014 by MerComm Inc
  • Gold Award for the ’44th Creativity International Print & Packaging Design Awards’ for its Annual Report 2012-13
  • Silver Award at Summit International Creative Award 2014 for creative representation of the Annual Report 2012-13 for the second time, with first silver for Annual Report 2011-12
  • 20th Annual Communicator Award of Distinction for overall design in the Print category for Annual Report 2012-13
  • Gold Shield Award by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for five consecutive financial years for Excellence in Financial Reporting: Annual Report 2008-09; 2009–10; 2010–11; 2011–12; 2012-13
  • Gold Award for Annual Report 2011-12 by SAFA (South Asian Federation of Accountants)
  • CII National Award for Food Safety 2013
  • Gold Award at League of American Communications Professionals LACP 2012/13 Vision Awards
  • Ranked 34th among Top 100 Annual Reports Worldwide at League of American Communications Professionals LACP 2012/13 Vision Awards
  • Gold Award at Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) Corporate Collateral Awards 2014
  • Honorary Award on Social Responsibility by LASSIB Society
  • Significant recognitions
  • Akshaya Patra has been nominated to be the Member of National Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (NSMC) for Mid-Day Meal Programme
  • Akshaya Patra is the first NGO to have got enlisted in the ICAI Hall of Fame and it is the third entry across all industries
  • The Foundation is ranked 23rd among Top 100 NGOs by The Global Journal in its 2013 edition
  • It is featured as one of the 8 game changers in the inaugural issue of Innowin- India’s first magazine dedicated to innovation
  • Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records recognises Akshaya Patra as running ‘The world’s largest school meal programme.
  • A documentary on Akshaya Patra was featured on National Television-Doordarshan.
  • A documentary was also featured on nat geo under the mega kitchens series.

Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states in India.

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Sakshi Jain

Sakshi Jain

A kid at heart! I find happiness in the little things that life has to offer me. Writing is my escape from the monotony of my life.
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