16th July 2014, was a day of delight for Akshaya Patra kitchen in Jaipur. Bill Clinton, former President of the USA paid a visit to the kitchen facility of Jaipur. The Akshaya Patra Foundation implements the mid-day meal programme in India covering 23 locations including Jaipur. It was a remarkable day for the Foundation as a whole to have been in the itinerary of a noted personality. Clinton was accompanied by Gururaj Deshpande, Abhay Jain along with 25 delegates and Akshaya Patra representatives.
As a part of the visit Clinton spent an hour touring the Akshaya Patra kitchen in Jaipur and witnessed the diligent process that goes into making food under the mid-day meal programme nutritious, healthy, and hygienic. He was overwhelmed to see the huge quantity of food that gets prepared every single day amounting to 250,000 rotis (Indian flat bread), 5 tonnes of rice and 6 tonnes of dal (lentils). After the kitchen tour he in company of other delegates proceeded to visit Government Praveshika Sanskrit Vidyalaya, one of the beneficiary schools of Akshaya Patra in Sanganer.
Clinton received a warm welcome at the school followed by a cultural programme in honour his visit. He interacted with the children and also helped in serving mid-day meal to them. The skill of solving a complex mathematical calculation by two Standard X students using the Vedic Maths method called Nikhilam left Clinton and other dignitaries awestruck. Experiencing the ability of the children Clinton instantly asked Akshaya Patra to contact his Foundation in event of any assistance required in the future with regard to the education of these children.
The Akshaya Patra kitchen in Jaipur is a part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment made between the Deshpande Foundation, Ravindra Chamaria and the Government of India way back in 2008, upon which Akshaya Patra would be endowed with $7 million for scaling up the mid-day meal programme. Clinton was impressed at the efforts of Akshaya Patra and said that it was a remarkable Public-Private Partnership. He said that it was an unbelievable experience to see how such huge quantity of food is being prepared, distributed and served in the most efficient, healthy and sanitary manner. He also thanked all the students and teachers for the warm welcome.
Clinton hopes that Akshaya Patra receives more support from the corporate world and says that in the span of 10 years of the Clinton Foundation’s existence, Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal programme has been the finest commitment ever. He also thanked Caterpillar Foundation for their generous contribution of $2 million towards the construction of Akshaya Patra’s Lucknow centralised kitchen which will enable the NGO to feed about 100,000 children in and around Lucknow.
Explaining the importance of the mid-day meal programme, Clinton says that creating an inclusive democracy is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century globally. Besides political inclusion, it is important to create economic and social inclusion for overall development. He further added that more often than not political system tend to overlook programmes such as mid-day meal programme which has great potential to do good to the society. These feeding programmes have the power to create a whole new set of futures for the children in need.
Along with Akshaya Patra kitchen in Jaipur, Clinton’s visit was a proud moment for the entire Akshaya Patra family.
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