CII Food Safety Awards airing on Zee Business

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CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) held the Awards Ceremony of National Awards for Food Safety 2014 as part of the 9th National Food Safety and Quality Summit on 2nd December, 2014. The awards ceremony was covered by Zee Business and will be aired for half an hour on the following dates and times:

20th December (Saturday): 3.30 p.m.
21st December (Sunday): 5.30 p.m.

Akshaya Patra’s VK Hill kitchen was conferred the highest award of ‘Outstanding Performance in Food Safety’ and the Hubli kitchen received the 2nd highest award of ‘Certificate of Commendation for Significant Achievement in Food Safety’.

Tune in to the Zee Business Channel to watch the coverage.

Akshaya Patra, a charitable trust in India

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When one surfs the internet he finds a number of charitable trusts in India alone. Of the many trusts some are involved in providing mid-day meal in India. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a charitable trust in India implementing the mid-day meal programme. This charitable trust in India has been functional since June 2000. In its journey of 14 years, it has served mid-day meal to 1.4 million children across more than 10, 600 Government schools in India. Akshaya Patra is present in 23 locations across states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
This charitable trust in India functions in Public-Private Partnership model. It receives grants and subsidies from the Central Government and various State Governments. The Foundation is also eligible to raise funds in the form of donations to sustain and expand the programme in other locations of India. Apart from the primary cause of providingmid-day meal in India, this charitable trust in India is also engaged in other initiatives as mentioned below:
Other feeding initiatives of Akshaya Patra:

a) Anganwadi feeding
b) Feeding expecting and lactating mothers
c) Feeding in special schools
d) Subsidised lunch for the economically backward
e) Feeding runaway children
f) Feeding in old-age homes
g) Feeding the homeless
h) Disaster relief

Social initiatives of Akshaya Patra:
a) After-class tuitions
b) Life skills programme
c) Community health camps
d) Scholarship programmes
e) Health check-up camps

In order to evaluate the progress of the mid-day meal programme in impacting the lives of the underserved children,Akshaya Patra has conducted many impact studies. The summary of the studies can be availed at Impact Study. These studies evaluated the extent to which this charitable trust in India has been successful in achieving the six main objectives of the Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme as mentioned below:

o Eliminating classroom hunger
o Increasing school enrolment
o Increasing school attendance
o Improving socialisation among communities
o Addressing malnutrition, and
o Women empowerment
Everyone has their own reason to donate to charity in India or elsewhere. The reasons mainly depend upon the individual’s interest and potential of a particular cause. Over time, NGOs have evolved many innovative ideas of fundraising. Fundraise with us and Fundraising ideas are two sections of Akshaya Patra that will provide a list of interesting activities that can be done to raise donations while creating awareness about the cause. In present times, one can choose either offline or online medium to donate to charity in India. Apart from choosing to donate to charity in India, one can also choose to contribute to the mid-day meal programme in India through their time and skill, i.e. through volunteering. Get involved will provide various volunteering options to choose from for the benefit of the children. Read millions of heart warming tales of the young beneficiaries at Stories of hope. Their stories may be different but what’s common is the determination to achieve their dreams.
Support a dream today!

Akshaya Patra – How To Make 1.5 Million Meals In Less Than 5 Hours

The mid-day meal program was launched by the Government of India in the mid-1960s, and is the largest school-lunch program in the world, feeding 120 million students across the country. The Akshaya Patra Foundation started its own initiative in 2000 to provide mid day meals to 1500 school-going children across 5 schools in Bangalore. In 2006, the two collaborated to exponentially increase their social impact, and to take a big step in helping India meet its Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and achieving universal primary education.

At present, Akshaya Patra Foundation provides freshly cooked and nutritious lunch to more than 1.5 million school-going children in 9,692 government schools across 9 states and 1 Union Territory. The Better India Team recently visited the enormous centralized kitchen at Vasanthapura in Bangalore, and came away thoroughly impressed by the scale of operations, the complexity and the attention to detail.

Many times, the mid-day meal is the only food these children get to eat in the entire day, and it forms one of the biggest incentives for them to come to school. An example of a successful public-private partnership with a large-scale social impact, the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal program has been able to achieve outstanding cost and delivery efficiency by employing innovative technology, superlative management skills and smart engineering. Come take a tour of their Centralized Kitchen with us, so that you can see for yourself how 100,000 meals are prepared.
Many times, the mid-day meal is the only food these children get to eat in the entire day, and it forms one of the biggest incentives for them to come to school. An example of a successful public-private partnership with a large-scale social impact, the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal program has been able to achieve outstanding cost and delivery efficiency by employing innovative technology, superlative management skills and smart engineering. Come take a tour of their Centralized Kitchen with us, so that you can see for yourself how 100,000 meals are prepared.

How The Akshaya Patra Foundation Serves 1.5 Million School Lunches Across India Every Day

Throughout the twenty years in which I have been working with social entrepreneurs, non-profits and activists, nothing has inspired me like the Akshaya Patra Foundation, based in Bangalore, India.

In less than 12 years, Akshaya Patra has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most effective NGO’s.  Started in 2001 in Bangalore, Akshaya Patra provides school lunch, or a midday meal, to 1.5 million children daily across India – nearly 330 million meals cooked, delivered and eaten every year.  Its meteoric rise – and the collaboration of government, donors and communities in that rise, is a story that I hope many NGO’s and social entrepreneurs can tell in the next decades.

As a former Board member, I am most interested in the ability of this organization to scale, because this has the greatest ramifications for social entrepreneurs everywhere.  We tend to celebrate the social entrepreneur with the new idea but do not expect them to achieve the same level of impact as we do of the private companies we invest in.  But if we are truly to call these individuals and their organizations “entrepreneurs” then we must hold out the same expectations for them – of reaching a scale and achieving an impact that reverberates through society.

India has nearly 130 million children of school age.  And of that, about 100 million are enrolled in school.  And as one would expect, the schools are of varying quality.  However India’s public and private sectors agree that the availability of a nutritious midday meal is critical to driving attendance of boys and girls, improving cognitive abilities and providing children with the energy to learn in the classroom.  Thus India has a fairly sophisticated set of policies, enforced by India’s Supreme Court, that require schools to provide a school lunch to their students, and that NGO’s could be the provider along with government agencies.  And while multiple agencies have received contracts to provide a midday meal, almost none of them focused solely on the midday meal.  Any good entrepreneur knows the importance of focus.  In addition, many of these agencies were education providers, but relatively inexperienced in the areas of food, supply chain and nutrition.  In many ways, Akshaya Patra has succeeded because of its ability to stay focused on the midday meal, but to attack the complexities of the problem head on.

The roots of its success lie in its beginnings.  Akshaya Patra was started by two distinct groups of professionals who were able to integrate their multidisciplinary perspectives.  The first group was the leadership of ISKCON, a faith-based group in India.  These leaders were trained as engineers and worked in the private sector before their religious service.  They brought a tradition of service to people, and experience cooking for thousands of people at a time at their temples.  The second group consisted of senior executives at Infosys and other Indian technology companies. They have spent the last thirty years solving complex global problems for many of the world’s largest companies.  When the two groups came together, they decided to focus on addressing a specific challenge in India that has cascading effects.  And they decided to focus on scalability from the start.

They brought the best thinking in manufacturing, supply chain, innovation and logistics management to create a central kitchen model whereby food is centrally cooked and delivered by truck to local schools.  The kitchen’s, many of which are ISO-9000 certified, are really food factories, capable of cooking food daily for up to 200,000 people each.  Food preparation begins at 3:00am and the food makes its way through a modern conveyer process until it’s loaded onto specially-built trucks around 7:00am that can deliver food to government (public) schools using a hub-and-spoke routing system.

The cost – is just $0.08 per meal per child – or about $28 per year.

The ability to constantly maintain a quality product, to provide it at scale, and at a low price are traits we would expect of the most successful companies in the world.  How does Akshaya Patra do it?  In addition to the process outlined above, it also constantly innovates – including using data analytics, cooking using clean energies and constantly improving ingredients to have healthier food – while keeping the cost the same.  It hires the best talent available – experts from India’s best schools and companies, and pays them a comfortable wage.  And it maintains strong corporate governance with boards, auditors and others joining in.

And it has spent a lot of time thinking about the model for scale.  It turned out that the changes in India’s demographics and geography meant that the central kitchen model could work in most of India – regardless of the romanticism of India being a nation of villages.  It also turned out that many large companies and wealthy families would pay for the construction of kitchens in their communities.  And it turns out that India’s growing middle class is more than willing to donate Rs. 1200 a year ($28) to feed a child.  And most importantly, India’s central and state governments have shown an unwavering commitment to funding the midday meal program – providing cash, land, rice and lentils to Akshaya Patra and other NGO’s providing school lunch.  The government support accounts for about 40% of the funds, with the rest coming from private sources.

For the near future, the biggest challenge facing Akshaya Patra and India around the midday meal program will be scale.  While Akshaya Patra reaches 1.5 million children daily, that still only reaches 1% of the children of school age in India.  The organization is striving to reach 5 million by 2020.  This would be astounding for an NGO, but would only be 3% of Indian school children.  Indian policy makers, philanthropists and NGO’s have not yet decided how to scale the concept around Akshaya Patra – of a centralized kitchen using best-in-class production systems, processes and supply chain.  This will entail significant training across India.  It will also require a significant funding commitment by government and private donors. And it will require a third-party organization that can continue to monitor quality so the health of the children remains a priority.

As we celebrate the breakthrough innovations of social entrepreneurs everywhere, let us also keep one eye on their progress, knowing that there are NGO’s that can scale quickly when the right talent, policy and model can come together.

Nish Acharya

Senior Advisor, Northeastern University

Bharathi Mahapatra: Boosting young minds and dreams

Teachers transform children into the adults they will grow up to be. They help develop their mental and social capabilities, hone their skills and equip them with the knowledge that they will carry with them into the future. It’s a serious responsibility and needs right person to carry it out.
Bharathi Mahapatra shoulders this duty well in her role as headmistress of the Vijayanagar Project Primary School in Puri. Kind and welcoming, she looks after her school armed with her 21 years of experience in the field of education.
The school which teaches children from standard I to V trains them in not just academics, but performing arts, writing and reading skills too. Right now the school has 113 children enrolled who come flocking to class every day to lap up their day’s lessons and enjoy their nutritious mid-day meal too.
The children who are beneficiaries of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal usually come from economically challenged families, Bharathi says. Because of hunger many times children are driven to labour to survive. However because of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal they get to enjoy their classes as well as a daily healthy meal. “And the children get to live their childhood as they are supposed to”, she adds.
We were especially pleased and humbled to hear that Bharathi took up the transfer to the area voluntarily in order to work at the school.
It is the combination of teachers like Bharathi, and the shining, happy faces of the healthy children that act a constant reminder of the great mission Akshaya Patra has undertaken. With the support of the mid-day meal programme and guidance of excellent instructors, thousands of children all over India now have hope in a great future.

Akshaya Patra: Feeding Millions of Malnourished Children

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Surrounded by lush green wheat and yellow flowering mustard fields at Ekdanta primary school, fifty-seven children in two combined classes are fidgety—impatient for the school-served midday meal.

The hot meals are served by the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the largest non- profit in India, in partnership with the government’s school meal program that covers 120 million children in 1.26 million schools across the country.

A show of hands in Ekdanta indicates that one quarter of students has not had breakfast before school.

Eight-year-old Nagina Singh has not had even the glass of buffalo milk that other children have had before school. “Both my parents left for daily wage labour early morning and there was nothing at home to eat,” she told IPS.

“This is not uncommon among the eighty-five marginal and share-farmer families populating Ekdanta,” says head-teacher Chandrasen Singh.

The small dusty village is 170 kilometers from Delhi in the northern Indian Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh State.

Akshaya Patra, which in Hindu mythology means an inexhaustible food vessel, feeds 1.2 million school children every day from 18 centralized kitchens—15 automated, across eight states. Six of the kitchens are certified under the International Food Safety Management System standard ISO 22000:2005.

Nagina is one among the 169,000 children across 1,516 schools that are fed by Akshaya Patra’s Vrindavana unit—ten kilometers from the Hindu pilgrimage town of Mathura. Karnataka’s Hubli kitchen—420 kilometres from Akshaya Patra’s Bangalore headquarters—is their largest, feeding 176,000 children in 779 schools.

Intelligently engineered automated kitchens have been Akshaya Patra’s cornerstones for achieving remarkable scale and efficiency in delivering school meals. Using a hub-and-spoke model, mass quantities of food cooked in these automated kitchens are distributed in smaller amounts to individual schools in the surrounding areas.

Malnutrition, classroom hunger and school dropouts continue to be grave concerns in India, making Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) one and two—to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and to achieve universal primary education—difficult to achieve by the 2015 deadline.

The global hunger index published by the International Food Policy Research Institute ranks India – with 42 percent of the world’s underweight children aged under five—sixty-seven among eighty-four countries in 2010.

In 2001 the Supreme Court of India directed governments to provide cooked meals in all state-run primary schools to address these concerns.

In 2000, Akshaya Patra was already feeding 1,500 school children in Bangalore. “Within a month of starting we received requests to feed 100,000 children,” 37-year-old Narasimha Dasa, a mechanical engineer by training, told IPS.

Alstom helps Akshaya Patra to set waste-to-energy plant in Vadodara

Foundation today inaugurated a plant (solution) for the kitchen run by Akshaya Patra, an NGO-run school meal program, in Harinagar near Vadodara. This project aims to recycle kitchen waste to reduce and replace hydrocarbon usage to save energy.

The BioOrja plant has a capacity to recycle 1.5 tonnes of waste per day producing around 2,500 kg of LPG equivalent per month. This alternate energy source is considered to be a safe and environment friendly way of waste disposal, which will help prevent accumulation of waste thereby preserving nature. Alternately, the bio-CNG (compressed natural gas) can also be used for generating electricity.

Rathin Basu, Country President, Alstom India & South Asia, said, “Alstom Foundation has always been at the forefront in supporting projects that combine economic development, social progress and environmental protection. Particularly through this unique project, we at Alstom are happy to make a positive contribution to the less privileged sections of society and the community on a whole, while greatly reducing the carbon footprint by advocating the use of alternative sources of energy.”

The kitchen on an average, delivers 100,000 meals to children per day, representing 5 tonnes of waste every day. This kitchen reaches out to 1.3 lakh children daily in 1000 schools in Vadodara city and the surrounding rural areas.

Alstom Nationally, Akshaya Patra reaches out to over 1.3 million children in 22 locations across 9 states of India. What distinguishes Akshaya Patra from other mid-day meal programmes is the centralised kitchen approach, backed by technology driven process. Akshaya Patra kitchens, especially designed by engineers, leverage technology to maintain efficient processes, cook large amounts of food in a short period of time and thus keeping costs low and maintain the quality and consistency of food. The food is cooked in state-of-the-art kitchen facilities that have been designed and engineered from scratch by the Akshaya Patra management to optimise quality and minimise cost.

Mechanisation has minimised human handling of food to ensure high standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Steam heating has accelerated the cooking process, enabling the Foundation to prepare meals in large scale in less than five hours. Akshaya Patra also adheres to high standards of quality, particularly in newer kitchens that are designed to meet International Standard Organization (ISO) guidelines. Due to the uniqueness of Akshaya Patra’s model, its success in various parts of India, and in both rural and urban areas, and its ability to provide high quality nutrition at a low cost, the organisation’s operations are highly scalable, as is indicated by the rapid growth of the organisation.

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.

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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 serves billionth meal to government school children

Bangalore: For the past 12 years, Akshaya Patra Foundation has served cooked food to nearly 14 lakh children in government schools across the country. And now, it has reached an important milestone. The foundation just served its billionth meal in August.

From a very modest beginning, the foundation now covers most government schools in nine states across the country.

Chanchalapathi Dasa, the Vice-Chairman of the Foundation said, “We have always said that we are a very rich country with a lot of poor people. That’s the sad part of it. Our government has very good programmes, very good leaders and a huge outlay of budgets. But the challenge in our country is delivering, how to deliver these good programmes up to the last mile, reach to all the children in all the corners of the country. That’s been a big challenge and Akshaya Pathra has provided a demonstrating model of how it can be done with a group of well meaning people working with the government and working with corporate, individuals.”

Now, even as students increase and volumes expand, Akshaya Patra Foundation has not lost sight of its core principle – serving tasty and nutritious food to children.

To celebrate the grand milestone of its billionth meal, the Foundation got music director Shankar Mahadevan and lyricist Javed Akthar to compose a theme track for them.

Mahadevan says he will try and dub the song in every possible language so that the message spreads across the nation. “I think with everybody’s support and with the power of music, we are all here to support the cause, we are going to spread it like anything. We are going to dub this song in every possible language and in every state in the country.”

Akshaya Patra now hopes that in some years, the country will have food security and people won’t need the support of such foundations. But till then, they will continue providing healthy food to many more under-privileged children across the country.

Children Reviews

Dear Aunty/Uncle,

How are you? I am fine, thank you. My name is Rani. I am studying in the 10th standard. We do not know each other, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for changing my life forever.

I come from a small village outside Bangalore. My parents moved to the city to find work, leaving behind their farms. It was not easy at all. My father found work on a construction site and my mother works in other people’s houses. Even I had to do small-small jobs to earn money. There was no other way. How would we eat otherwise? I thought moving to a big city meant that I could go to school. But it looked like an impossible dream.

Then one day, we heard about this school that feeds children. I begged my parents to consider sending me to school now. After all, their burden would be reduced, right? After much pleading, they finally agreed. And I started going to school. My first day at school was the happiest day of my life. I’ve never missed a single day of school since then.

At school, I asked my teacher, “Who is sending us this food?” The teacher told me that it was you, and many more people like you. She told me that you made a special contribution to help Akshaya Patra make this meal for me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you, and to Akshaya Patra. That is why I am writing you this letter today, to thank you. I cannot imagine my life without this meal and without this school.

Please keep up the good work. I will also send you letters from time to time, telling you about what is happening in my life.

Yours sincerely,
Rani