This NGO provides the most basic need- “food” to the children in India by implementing the Mid-day Meal programme in Government and Government-aided schools. With a humble beginning back in 2000, this NGO today feeds 1.3 million children across India. It has also been honoured as the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme. This is the growth story of The Akshaya Patra Foundation based in Bangalore.
“No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”, is the vision Akshaya Patra is working towards. It has set itself a mission of reaching out to 5 million children by 2020. A milestone towards this mission was achieved in August 2012 by serving the billionth meal since inception. The many smiles, hopes and dreams of million children are the chief factors that keep up the motivation of the Foundation. These children are the reason for the Foundation’s existence and purpose. There are many anecdotes that depict the power of one meal that keeps alive the aspiration among these children. Here is one such anecdote:
“I want to become a Civil Engineer. I want to construct a Five Star Hotel” - these are the words of an enthusiastic and determined 12 year old.
Santosh A is a 7th standard student studying in Government Higher Primary School, Bangalore, Karnataka. He comes from a humble family of three- mother, elder sister and himself. His mother works as a domestic help to support the family and his sister is studying in 9th standard. The hardships back home has not shaken his aspiration to become a Civil Engineer. An account of his teacher states that- he is a very cheerful, active and confident child. His “ever ready to learn” quality will aid him in achieving his dreams.
Santosh is an Akshaya Patra meal beneficiary. When asked about the meal he immediately lists out his favourites – ‘Rice-sambhar, pulao, and bisibele bath’. These are few items of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal menu. He goes on to say, “I don’t have breakfast as my mother goes to work early. The school lunch provided by Akshaya Patra is my first 1st meal of the day. I love the meal and wait for lunch time eagerly.”
This mid-day meal is a huge incentive for the children to come to school. Apart from being an assurance that the children will get at least one nutritious meal per day, it also enriches them with the goodness of education. This validates how Akshaya Patra’s effort in providing mid-day meal to children in need is actually working towards countering two major issues- hunger and illiteracy.