The Akshaya Patra Foundation started serving its mid day meal in Rajasthan in the year 2004 with the opening of its kitchen in Jaipur. This kitchen was followed in quick succession by the opening of the kitchen in Baran in 2005, and Nathdwara in 2006. The NGO in Jodhpur was the latest to open, starting in August 2013. Together the four kitchens in the state reach out to over 135,000 children across 1,830 government schools in the region. Through this programme children across the state have been given the opportunity to attend school and get educated, and receive a nutritious daily meal as well. The programme which aims to eliminate classroom hunger has had a substantial impact on the lives of children all across India. Although the Foundation currently feeds over 1.4 million children a day, its mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020. The organisation has received great support for its programme over the years. One advantage is also that when making an above Rs.500 donation exemption on tax is available to the contributor.
The mid day meal in Rajasthan is served through two kitchen models that the Foundation adopts. The NGO in Jodhpur, Jaipur and Nathdwara follow the centralised kitchen format. These kitchens are semi mechanised cooking units that have cutting edge equipment that allows the team to produce food enough for 100,000 students each in just a few hours. These kitchens have huge cauldrons for cooking rice and dal, and the Jaipur kitchen even has two roti making machines capable of cooking 60,000 rotis each in just an hour! This advanced cooking technology cooks food efficiently and hygienically for the children in the state. However to undertake large scale cooking such as this, contributions from interested donors is crucial. Akshaya Patra being a not-for-profit organisation relies heavily on the good will of well-wishers to succeed. To encourage the support, donation exemption of tax up to 100 per cent has been permitted for the Rs. 500 above donations.
The other kitchen model followed by the organisation serving the mid day meal in Rajasthan is the decentralised kitchen. Unlike the centralised format followed by the NGO in Jodhpur and the other locations, the decentralised kitchen in Baran has been constructed due to the poor infrastructure and road connectivity in the state. Realising that it would not be possible to construct a full scale mechanised kitchen in this region, Akshaya Patra trained employees hired from local Women Self-Help Groups, often whose own children were benefitting from the programme in the schools. This way the Foundation ensured that even children living in remote regions of India are not denied the chance to receive education and escape their cycle of hunger and poverty. To reach more children like this across the country Akshaya Patra provides that for above Rs.500 donation exemption will be allowed to the contributor.
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