5 secrets behind Akshaya Patra’s success .

Looking out of a window one day in Mayapur, a village near Calcutta, his Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada saw a group of children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. From this simple, yet heart-breaking incident, came the determination that no one within a 10-mile radius of their ISKCON center should go hungry. That is how Akshaya Patra was born in 2000.


From that moment, Akshaya Patra has become a legendary organisation which feeds approximately 1.3 million children in nine states in India by partnering with more than 10,000 government schools through its mid-day meal programme. By doing so, they provide motivation and nourishment to students to pursue education for a better future.

Impressed by these numbers and their impactful story, I decided to visit one of the Akshaya Patra kitchens in Bangalore to understand what motivates them. The outcome was these amazing lessons I learnt by observing their operations and talking with Sayani Bhattacharya, who works in the communications department, and who guided me during the visit.

  1. Find a big problem and its bigger solution.
    Around 45 million children do not attend school in India because they have to fend for themselves and their families. They typically end up with menial jobs. Without education they remain in poverty. Those who do manage to attend school remain impoverished. This hampers their learning. The issue that Akshaya Patra is tackling is very important and the solution they have found is a great one. While all the mid-day meal programmes are based on small kitchens, they have created big and efficient kitchens to serve as many people as possible. Their average kitchen is serving 50,000-100,000 children, while their biggest one in Hubli serves 250,000 children
  2. Be efficient.
    Akshaya Patra has redefined the concept of a community kitchen. Here they have silos of rice and daal, tubes that move the food from one floor to the other, workers who check the quality of the food and maintain reports. Everything flows in a perfect way in order to serve as many people as possible. Efficiency is key to their business model: no other organisation in the world is able to produce hygienic and good quality food at such low costs. They are able to do it because of their superior quality and unlimited quantity of food. A typical meal consists of rice, chapattis, sambar, dal and curd; a complete meal that helps children to concentrate better which in turn increases their performances.
  3. Behave like a company
    Akshaya Patra was born from the fusion of two groups: ISKCON, a faith-based group in India, which had the expertise in cooking on a large scale for people in its temples, and senior executives at Infosys and in other technologies companies in India. When they started they brought the best thinking in manufacturing, innovation, supply chain and logistics to scale as much as possible. “Our founders were graduates from IIT and we have always believed in the power of technology to serve our purpose in the best way possible. That’s why we have key partnerships with important universities and technology companies to achieve more every day. That’s for sure one of our key advantage,” says Sayani.
  4. No quality vs quantity debate
    Being a great organisation doesn’t mean achieving big numbers, but providing solutions with a larger purpose. Akshaya Patra doesn’t compromise the quality of its meals to achieve quantity. In fact, more than that, every process is completely sustainable. Gas stoves were replaced with Oorjastoves, which use biomass pellets as fuel. The smokeless stove has a chamber for burning briquettes, a mini-fan powered by rechargeable batteries and controlled by a regulator, which blows air to fan the flames. They also have strong policies in terms of keeping the place clean in order to serve the best food possible to the children they feed.
  5. What it take to scale
    Akshaya Patra is an organisation built to grow. It is not just about being cost efficient and professional, but about its long-term vision. They believe that “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger,” and they are doing whatever is possible to make that happen. At the moment they are the largest food distribution program in the world and they have a goal to distribute food to five million children by 2020. Considering their great success, it is a dream that doesn’t seem impossible to achieve.

Akshaya Patra Foundation may discontinue mission after 2030

The occasion saw singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan being declared the brand ambassador of Akshaya Patra by ISKCON Bangalore president Madhu Pandita Dasa

The Akshaya Patra Foundation that serves midday meal to over 1.4 million schoolchildren in nine States has said that it may not continue the mission beyond 2030.

Strange, but true, the non-governmental organisation established by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Bangalore, wants every child in the country to get everything — from food to education, without any external intervention by 2030. The foundation’s wish was revealed by it


s trustee T.V. Mohandas Pai at a function to celebrate Akshaya Patra serving the one billionth meal here on Sunday.

Mr. Pai said the that foundation began the mission with just 1,500 students in 2000 and is now serving 1.4 million children in nine States with support from the Union and the State governments and donors. By 2020, the foundation aims to serve five million children, from which point, it hopes every needy child in the country will be taken care of.

Infosys Technologies Chairman Emeritus N.R. Narayana Murthy said that children will absorb their lessons better if they had had a good breakfast. He asked Mr. Pai, “Why don’t you arrange for biscuits and banana for schoolchildren in the morning.” While many NGOs do not want to wind up any programme, Mr. Murthy appreciated the foundation’s decision to wind up the programme by 2030.

The occasion saw singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan being declared the brand ambassador of Akshaya Patra by ISKCON Bangalore president Madhu Pandita Dasa. A digital versatile disk featuring a promo-song by lyricist Javed Akhtar and composed and performed by Mahadevan was released by Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murty.

Two Akshaya Patra beneficiaries, C.J. Karthik of government college, Saneguruvanahalli, Bangalore, who got admission into MBBS at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute after securing the 90 rank in CET, and C. Savita, who stood 9 in SSLC as a student of corporation high school in Sriramapuram, Bangalore, were felicitated.

The former Chief Justice of India S. Rajendra Babu and ISKCON vice-president Chanchalapati Dasa were present.

Akashaya Patra Foundation Mid Day Meal programs


The Akshaya Patra Foundation is actively engaged in the ‘mid day meal’ initiative started for the noble cause of feeding millions of school going children in India. The motivating force which triggered the setting up of this program is the Spiritual leader His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who while in Calcutta saw a group of children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. From this minor, yet heart breaking incident, came the determination that no one within a ten mile radius of Hare Krishna Group center should go hungry. The Akshaya Patra program had a simple vision:  “No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger”. Because of India’s enormous population, this was a challenging vision difficult to be realized.

In June 2000, the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal program was started in Bangalore by feeding 1500 children in 5 schools. At that time there was no State run school meal program in Karnataka. Within a few short weeks hundreds of requests were received from teachers who expressed the dire need of such a scheme. Akshaya Patra recognized the need for midday meal programs in other parts of the country and expanded the program to other areas. In August 2003, it opened a kitchen in Vrindavan, in northern India.

In July 2004, it began a midday meal program in Hubli-Dharwad. By November 2004, Akshaya Patra had also commenced a pilot program in 25 schools feeding 5,200 children in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

As the urban operations grew, Akshaya Patra recognized that in order to reach the majority of India’s most undernourished children; it also needed to serve the rural districts. In August 2005, Akshaya Patra began services in the region of Baran, located in east Rajasthan, in response to the number of starvation deaths in the area. Neither the government nor Akshaya Patra was able to serve these communities adequately on its own, but as partners, their mutual goal was achievable.

Today, the Foundation extends its mid day meal facilities in the following states: Karnataka, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Andhra Pradesh. It is a fluent demonstration of public-private partnership as it is run with part subsidies from the Government, besides financial support from corporates, individuals and philanthropists. AC Nielsen, an independent research firm, performed an impact assessment in 2010, measuring key indicators such as enrolment, attendance and health. The study demonstrated an increase in enrolment, especially among the female students, and better health and improved performance among all students who received school lunches.