Friday, 26 June 2020

Akshaya Patra's cooking strategies in kitchens

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the pioneer NGOs implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme in India. Since the last 20 years, the Foundation has worked relentlessly to cook and serve meals to school children coming from challenging backgrounds. It supports the Government’s initiative of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme to tackle two issues: hunger and education.

Mid-day meals act as an incentive for parents hailing from economically challenged backgrounds to send their children to school with the hope that they will be able to at least eat one proper meal a day.

VISION: No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.

There are millions of children who need the right amount of nutrition for better overall development. To serve these children The Central Government laid down the nutritional requirement that each child must receive. Thus, following these guidelines, Akshaya Patra started serving on a large from its Centralised Kitchens that are erected in 50 locations and Decentralised Kitchens in 2 locations.

To know the location of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens, click here.

The Centralised kitchens have the capacity to cook around 1,00,000 meals which function with minimal manual intervention. These kitchens are equipped with dal cauldrons with 500 litres capacity, sambar/dal cauldrons with a capacity of 1200 litres, rice chutes, trolleys, knives, and other similar equipment made out of 304 food-grade stainless steel.
Apart from the above, the Akshaya Patra kitchens use vegetable cutting machines, potato peeler machines, coconut grating machines, etc. In Northern India, top high-end automated machines are used for making rotis. With the help of roti making machine and dough kneader, around 200,000 rotis can be made using 6000 kilograms of wheat flour.

For cooking in such a large scale, it is imperative to plan and act in a structured manner. Which is why the Foundation follows certain standard operating procedures. Kaizen, Continuous Improvement Projects and Six Sigma methodologies are an essential part of the Akshaya Patra’s operations. Apart from these methodologies, various green initiatives are adopted as a part of regular operations. This includes, solar and biogas plants, eco-friendly technologies like ReFlex Reverse Osmosis System, effluent treatment plants and Reed bed plants in various kitchens across the nation.

To ensure that children savour hot and healthy meals, a few standard operating procedures are followed, that include:

·         Supplier Quality Management System (SQMS)
This process covers various other processes like Supplier Selection, Supplier Qualification, Supplier Rating, etc. that ensure that the best quality raw materials are procured. The raw materials are accepted only after a thorough quality check which meet the Raw Material Specifications guidelines adapted from the Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA).

·         FIFO and FEFO
To retain the freshness of raw materials, the Akshaya Patra kitchens follow FIFO (First-In, First-Out) and FEFO (First-Expiry, First-Out) methods. Based on this, raw materials are identified, stored and retrieved systematically.

·         Cyclical menu-based cooking approach
Every location follows a pre-defined cyclical menu. This also keeps a tab on wastage-at-source. Apart from which, every kitchen cooks locally palatable which helps in avoiding wastage at schools

·         Meal packing and delivery
The vessels in which the meals are packed is first sterilised in steam. Food is then packed into stainless steel 304-grade-vessels which are loaded into customised vehicles that transport these meals. Vehicles used at Akshaya Patra have a puffed body to reduced loss of temperature of meals and honeycomb structure to hold the containers in place.
All the above processes ensure that hot and hygienically cooked meals that range between 62°C-65°C reach school children.

19.8 million children below age 6 in India are undernourished

The Akshaya Patra Foundation feeds only 1.8 million children and there are million more children whose lives are untouched. The NGO is on a mission to feed at least 5 million children by 2025, and this is only possible with support from generous people like you who care about building a better society for everyone.
We still have a long way to go, let us take the onus upon ourselves to be the change-makers in the lives of children.

Author Profile:

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an Indian NGO implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme in India. It implements various cooking strategies to reduce manual intervention and increase the efficiency of cooking processes. Your support to Akshaya Patra can potentially improve lives of millions of children across India and also avail you tax exemption.


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