India, November 2021: Twenty-one years ago, on 11 November 2000, The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s first kitchen was inaugurated in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Ever since, Akshaya Patra has been striving to make a positive impact on the lives of children by providing them nutritious, hygienic and tasty mid-day meals across India.
As the implementing partner of the Government of India’s flagship school feeding programme, the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme, the Akshaya Patra serves over 1.8 million children in 19,039 government and government-aided schools across 13 States and 1 Union Territory. Through the programme, the Foundation strives to address the issue of classroom hunger and promote education in the country.
Furthermore, Akshaya Patra has repeatedly demonstrated its responsibility towards society through its relief feeding efforts. The Foundation is currently undertaking food assistance to aid the Government’s efforts to provide relief to vulnerable communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is working with the Government and donors to provide food relief to vulnerable communities in 19 states and 2 UTs with the proactive support of its donors. Over 19.8 Crore meals have been served since March 2020 in the form of freshly cooked food and food relief kits with essential groceries.
Akshaya Patra is also working with the Government and donors proactively to ensure nutrition support to MDM beneficiaries by providing Happiness Boxes. Besides nutrition, these boxes also focus on hygiene and education with their contents ranging from glucose biscuits and ragi flour to colour pencils and activity books.
Beyond the feeding efforts, the Foundation is conducting incentivised vaccination drives to address vaccine hesitancy among marginalised populations. Every vaccinated person receives lunch, refreshments and a Raksha Kit—a customised ration kit with groceries for 21 meal servings—all free of cost. Over 1 lakh individuals have been vaccinated across Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore.
Akshaya Patra has become one of the most appreciated public-private partnerships in the development sector. The Foundation’s biggest strength has been its ability to effectively harness the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model by bringing the Government, corporate houses and philanthropists on the same platform to address a social cause on a massive scale.
Speaking on the important occasion, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman, said, “I remember when Akshaya Patra was a fledgling initiative that provided wholesome, nutritious and freshly cooked food to 1,500 students from five schools in Bengaluru. We were motivated by the cause and vision of ensuring that no child must forgo education because of hunger. Now, 21 years and millions of beneficiaries later, the core of our Foundation remains unshaken—our dedication to unlimited food for education is as strong as it ever was. If at all, it has strengthened over the last year and a half as we have tried to reach out to our beneficiaries across the country with nutritious food in these times of adversity. If we have been able to serve over 19 crore meals to those in need since March 2020, it is because of the collective efforts of all our stakeholders.”
He further added, “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India, and all the State Governments and UT Administrations for giving us the opportunity to serve the children. We are also immensely grateful to our corporate partners, individual donors and volunteers for their continued support to all our endeavours, from the MDM Programme to relief feeding initiatives.”
Akshaya Patra’s mission is to reach 5 million children and the organisation strives to enhance its initiatives with solutions focusing on food and nutrition security for children and implement innovative solutions to supplement welfare programmes to contribute to their health and well-being.