Akshaya Patra feeds over 1.3 million school children in India DAILY. We believe no child shall be deprived of education because of hunger.
Anil, a student of class seven, lives with his parents and an elder brother in a shanty town. His father, Gobind, is a vendor who tries to meet the family's needs from a meager daily income of Rs. 30 to Rs. 40. Anil's family was facing an acute shortage of money and his father was unable to bear the expenses of his food and education. Hence, Anil was on the verge of leaving school. At this time, the government was providing the mid-day meal at the school. However, the food lacked nutrition and taste and was insufficient in quantity. That was when The Akshaya Patra Foundation mid-day meal program was introduced.
The Akshaya Patra mid-day meal is given six days a week, with a different menu daily. The menu consists of dishes such as rice, palao, khichidi, aloo chana, and many nutritious vegetables like carrot, beet root, pumpkin, potato, and raw banana. Not only do these make the meal tasty but they cater to the children’s local appetite. Anil says, "I am now getting one full meal a day. This has lightened my father's burden considerably, which is why, now, my father is encouraging me to study and not leave school. My desire is to become a teacher, imparting knowledge to others."
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the world’s largest NGO-run midday meal programs feeding over 1.3 million children in over 9,000 schools throughout 10 states of India. A public-private partnership, Akshaya Patra combines good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver school lunch at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world. It costs Akshaya Patra only $15 to feed a child for an entire year. This meal gives these children an incentive to come to school, stay in school and provides them with the necessary nutrients they need to develop their cognitive abilities to focus on learning. The organization also sources its food stocks from local markets, thereby reducing costs associated with transportation and food spoilage while supporting the local economy.
In a short time, the foundation has grown to become the largest, and certainly most innovative, school lunch program in the world. Akshaya Patra is a great example of what can be accomplished when the public sector, private sector and the civic society collaborate-- a cost effective, scalable solution with high quality service delivery. After reaching its initial goal of feeding one million children each school day, Akshaya Patra’s next milestone is to serve 5 million children daily by 2020.