The current scenario of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy and many related issues implies the critical NGO role in India. As is true in global scenario that NGOs are playing a vital role in countering various issues related to social, environmental, health and rights, so is true in case of India too. The Government of India has initiated many different schemes and programmes in order to bring about a change in the socio-economic, health, education and many such factors. One among them is the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. This Scheme is aimed to providing cooked mid-day meal to children of government schools and government-aided schools. This Scheme works as a supporting pillar for Government initiated education schemes to attain 100% literacy.
The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is a nationwide programme and approximately 10.45 crore children in 11.58 lakh schools benefits from this Scheme according to 2013-14 estimate. Considering the implementation of mid-day meal in Karnataka, Akshaya Patra in Bangalore has been one of the key implementers in the state. Akshaya Patra began providing cooked mid-day meal at five schools in the city in June 2000. The response from the beneficiary schools and the enquiries from the neighbouring schools clearly indicated that need for mid-day meal at schools.
The Government of India also witnessed the need of NGO participation in implementation of such a huge programme. Thus, the role of NGO in India to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme turned out to be vital because NGOs can make available the benefits of this Scheme at the grass root level of the society, and that’s where the actual transformation begins. Since 2000, Akshaya Patra in Bangalore has been serving mid-day meal to government school children. Apart from Bangalore, Akshaya Patra covers four locations to provide mid-day meal in Karnataka namely Mysuru, Hubballi, Ballari and Mangaluru. Since its inception, Akshaya Patra has been very strategic in its expansion plans so as to ensure sustainability of the programme. It fathomed the significance of its work as an implementer of a nationwide programme and thus furthering its service, Akshaya Patra expanded its operations in nine other states during 15 years. Currently, the impact of this NGO role in India is felt among more than 1.4 million children residing across 24 locations.
Studies conducted by Akshaya Patra in association with third party assessors to assess the impact of mid-day meal in Karnataka and the other beneficiary states have shown results indicating improved attendance and concentration among children, reduction in classroom hunger, increase in enrolment and retention thereby lowering drop-out rates. This further indicate the importance of sustainability of the feeding programme along with indicating that we need to expand the programme to benefit more children. The NGO role in India thus becomes even more challenging and at the same time accomplishing too. But social change requires social participation too and hence Akshaya Patra provides ample volunteering opportunities. Get involve with the organisation to see how you can participate in providing mid-day meal. Your support towards even a single child is the beginning for a wave of change.