Akshaya Patra works in partnership with various State Governments of India to provide 1.2 million underprivileged children across the nation with school lunch. Founded in June 2000 we are now the world’s largest NGO run mid-day meal program, present in 18 locations of the country.
Our work actively affects the 2 most critical MDGs: elimination of hunger and universalisation of primary education.
“No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger"
-Akshaya Patra's vision
The program we implement gives underprivileged children direct access to food. This wholesome meal is often the only nutrition they get to have during the day. Our food lab therefore strives to ensure that the meals are palatable to children, while also meeting the requirements of a growing child. The Foundation’s centralized kitchens, some of the largest in the world, use innovative technology to cook hundreds of thousands of meals in a few short hours. Our decentralized kitchens reach out to children in the remotest areas of India while also creating employment for hundreds of women.
“We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty...”
-Millennium Declaration, 2000
The program also helps in the universalization of primary education.
Nearly 13.5 million children in India are out of school.* Their circumstances force them into menial labor in order to earn a single meal a day. The food we provide therefore acts as an incentive to bring children back to school. It prevents them from working while also encouraging their education.
Surveys conducted show that the program is working. In some areas where Akshaya Patra is providing meals, enrolment for class 1 students has increased by as much as 41% during the initial year of implementation.
‘Food for education’ programs, like that of Akshaya Patra’s, are designed to address the link between education and hunger. Research shows that universal education has lagged because of prevalent hunger and malnutrition. They reduce enrolment in schools, hamper performance levels and increase dropout rates, especially among girls. Hunger impairs a child’s performance even if they do attend school.
This mid-day meal program helps prevent all this. It provides children with a meal rich in nutrients that improves their health and increases their overall well being. It gives each child the opportunity to learn, grow and above all, aim for a brighter future.
Akshaya Patra works hard everyday to provide wholesome meals to children so that they can grow up in a hunger free world that gives them the opportunity to make their dreams come true.
*UNICEF, India http://www.unicef.org/india/children_3647.htm