“The children of our nation have to fight with many problems to get education including the improper education system, lack of finances, discrimination, reservation and what not. But at least, they should not be fighting hunger when they get an opportunity to pursue education.” This is what is the belief of people at Akshaya Patra, an NGO based in Banglore, India.
Recently the Banglore based NGO was nominated by world service audience from across the world for BBC Food & Farming Awards. And the good news is they won the “BBC World Service Global Champion Award”. The International panel of judges was very much impressed with the working and agenda of the NGO who are serving 1.75 million underprivileged students daily across the nation.
The head judge, Chef Samin Nosrat, who is also an Iranian-American writer said “I am really moved by getting school lunches paid for in the States and so to see it being done on such a large scale and in such an incredible way by Akshaya Patra that was a really moving and powerful thing to see.” She further added that nothing is as important for her as it is to give proper food to children because it is fundamental.
Akshaya Patra’s mission states that children can do menial jobs to earn their food and this can get in their way of getting a proper education. Also, even if they somehow are pushed for schooling, an empty stomach will hinder their concentration in studies.
The NGO started approximately 20 years ago to start serving food to underprivileged children. Initially, they could provide 1500 children mid-day meals. However, hard work and support from social heroes, have made them capable of serving mid-day meals to 1.75 million children every day across various schools vide India.
People at Akshaya Patra tells that since their inception as an NGO, they faced various problems. Initially, they could not establish a proper foundation due to lack of vessels to serve and pack the food. Also, they did not have the proper vehicles to transport food. However, once the government of India mandated Mid-Day Meal programme in 2003, the NGO tied-up with government and started serving thousands of students. Since then, Akshaya Patra has been able to implement a mid-day meal programme in 42 locations of India’s 12 states. The 1.75 million students benefitted by Akshaya Patra are spread across 15000+ government schools. The NGO has around 12 Centralised Kitchen’s in India which are certified by ISO 22000:2005. Akshaya Patra aims to reach a targeting high of feeding 5 million children every day by the year 2025.
The Senior Commissioning Editor of BBC World Service, Mr Stephen Titherington tells that the NGO is a great winner. He says that governments should focus on economies & politics of proper food while understanding the cruciality of how difficult it is to find enough food to eat.
Shiksha News salutes the efforts of Akshaya Patra and congratulates them on erasing hunger of millions of innocent faces. We wish they get more support to reach their goals soon.