The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the world’s largest NGO-run midday meal programs. The mission is to simultaneously address childhood hunger and malnutrition while also promoting education for underserved children in India. Hunger is a hidden problem that over 50 million children battle silently. These children are not in school because of economic necessities. Akshaya Patra believes that no child should be denied equitable access to food and education.
Started modestly in Bangalore feeding 1,500 children in five schools, the foundation has grown to become the largest, and certainly most innovative, school lunch program in the world. Akshaya Patra currently provides freshly prepared nutritious meals to 1.3 million underprivileged children daily in eight states from 18 kitchens in over 8,000 schools in India. For many children, this is their only complete meal for the day. This meal gives them an incentive to come to school and stay in school as well as to provide them with the necessary nutrients they need to develop their cognitive abilities and to focus on learning.
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 only $31 to feed a child for an entire year, and with government subsidy, it takes just $11.50.
By leveraging technology in cooking and delivery, Akshaya Patra has helped to build a global standard of supply chain efficiency. By sourcing its food stocks from local markets, Akshaya Patra is able to reduce costs associated with transportation and food spoilage while supporting the local economy. It insulates the program from price fluctuations. The Akshaya Patra method has been embraced by local farmers, teachers and the communities surrounding each kitchen.
“Akshaya Patra is a great example of what can be accomplished when public sector, private sector and the civil society collaborate– a cost effective, scalable solution with high quality service delivery,” said Madhu Sridhar, President and CEO of Akshaya Patra USA.
Akshaya Patra’s goal is to feed 5 million children by 2020. Supporting Akshaya Patra gives hope to so many children in India; with their mid-day meals, they not only change their lives, but also the lives of their families, community and hopefully the world.
President Obama in his congratulatory note to Akshaya Patra wrote, “Your use of efficient and innovative business practices to scale up in just a few years from feeding 1,500 school children daily to almost a million is a powerful demonstration of what’s possible when people work together.”
For more information on Akshaya Patra and to view their kitchen operations, please visit www.foodforeducation.org.