Featured Social Change Partner: Akshaya Patra Foundation
In a few short sentences, what does your non-profit do?
The Akshaya Patra Foundation works towards alleviating childhood hunger and illiteracy in India. Through partnerships with the Government of India, corporates and donors Akshaya Patra runs one of the largest school feeding programmes in the world. With the vision that ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’, today the Foundation feeds over 1.4 million children in 10,661 Government and Government-aided school, across 23 locations in ten states of India on every school day. Akshaya Patra’s mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020.
What need do you fulfill and why is your organization unique?
In India millions of malnourished children give up their dreams of an education to earn enough money for one square meal a day. Because of this they get trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and illiteracy that carries down over generations. Akshaya Patra provides these families with a way out. By providing the free, tasty and nutritious mid-day meals at Government schools where education is free as well, the children are given an incentive to enrol in school and attend classes. The children are provided with sufficient food to combat their low immunity and malnutrition, and over time have started to show improved health and energy, concentration, social skills, cognitive ability and more.
At Akshaya Patra quality is of the utmost importance. The food is cleaned and prepared adhering to strict Food Safety Management Systems, improvement strategies like Six Sigma and Kaizen are employed and 11 of the 23 kitchens have been ISO 22000:2005 certified, while the rest are in the process of certification. 21 out of 23 kitchens are centralised. These are highly mechanised kitchens capable of producing 1 lakh or more meals a day, and are built to maintain the highest standards of efficiency, hygiene and quality throughout the cooking process. The remaining two kitchens are decentralised kitchens set up to cater to the remote areas of Baran and Nayagarh where road connectivity and infrastructure does not support the construction of a full-scale centralised kitchen.
What do you think was the happiest moment for your organization?
For us, knowing that every day over a million children are savouring the food we serve has brought us unlimited joy. So much that one of our proudest moments was when we delivered our billionth meal in July 2012. Aside from this in 2014 Akshaya Patra won the Gold Shield award from the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India (ICAI) for Excellence in Financial Reporting in category XI, not-for-profit sector, for the 5th time in a row. This honour has also entered Akshaya Patra into the ICAI Hall of Fame, the only organisation in the not-for-profit sector to ever receive this award. Over the years Akshaya Patra has achieved many milestones, and received a myriad of awards and other recognitions that has brought us immense pride.
What was/is the largest obstacle your organization faced/faces?
The largest obstacle Akshaya Patra faces right now is achieving the resources to help in a sustained manner the millions of children still struggling without their minimum nutritional requirements. However we are confident that with the continued help of the Government of India, corporates and our well-wishers we will achieve our goal of eliminating classroom hunger in India.
What are the future plans for your organization?
In the coming months we are focusing on achieving our mission of feeding 5 million children by 2020 through expanding our kitchens to feed more children across the country. We will also continue to improve our quality standards by implementing improvement projects like Kaizen and Six Sigma in various locations, explore new areas that will support the sustainability of the mid-day meal programme and encourage development, improvisation and innovation across equipment design, planning and project management, civil design & construction, and more.
How can our readers help you further your mission?
The readers can help us with our mission by helping to spread the word about Akshaya Patra and our cause as much as possible. Akshaya Patra also has wings in the U.S. and U.K., aside from the headquarters in Bangalore, India where well-wishers can coordinate with us to fundraise and volunteer. If time and distance is a problem, they can also show their support towards the cause by making a donation of any amount. If interested, they can make a donation here: https://www.akshayapatra.org/onlinedonations
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
As a result of the Public-Private Partnership model adopted between Akshaya Patra and the Government of India, even a modest contribution from a donor can have a huge impact on the life of a child. In fact, one donation of Rs. 750 is enough to feed one child the mid-day meal for an entire year! Akshaya Patra also provides a 100% tax exemption certificate (In India) to every donation above Rs. 500. In an attempt to encourage donations towards this cause Akshaya Patra is also permitted to collect overseas donations through the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976 as accorded by The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. In fact, one donation of Rs. 750 ($15/£10) is enough to feed one child the mid-day meal for an entire year!
Any recent articles, videos, or information that would help us learn more about you?
You can also find out more about Akshaya Patra’s recent events and achievements at the links below.
The Possibilities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1DfmguKVHE
What can you get for Rs. 750? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYRNAE4tPnQ