The Inspiring Story of Akshaya Patra

Akshaya Patra Reviews

Who knows our story better than you – the one reading this on Akshaya Patra’s website? Your tremendous support to our cause of ‘Unlimited Food for Education’ has taken us from one kitchen serving 1,500 school children back in the year 2000 to 27 kitchens in 11 states that feed over 1.6 million school children every day.

We are excited to share that you can now read more about us through a book written by none other than Rashmi Bansal. Rashmi is an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus who is known for her book ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’. Her new release – ‘God’s Own Kitchen: The Inspiring Story of Akshaya Patra – A Social Enterprise Run by Monks and CEOs’ showcases the unconventional path taken by our founders.

This is the exciting story of spiritualists and capitalists coming together to launch a unique start-up. And taking it to scale. A ‘Made in India’ success story using the head, the heart and a whole lot of soul.

Excerpts of comments left by readers on Amazon:

“This is one of the classics that I have ever read in my life. The journey of a mega project beginning from scratch is vividly described. The author is extremely talented in bringing out the scenes of the play right in front of the readers, as if it was a live show. Hard work and dedication of Team Akshaya Patra under the able guidance of Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa and Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa is an encouragement for all of us.”

“Inspiring story of Akshaya Patra written in great detail, the book is moving and inspiring, fills the heart with hope, brings out the goodness in us. Must Read…”

You can get it for your Kindle or buy a paperback from here

Akshaya Patra’s Savory Mid-Day Meal Relished by Bengaluru Mayor.

Akshaya Patra Reviews

It’s heartbreaking to see India as one of the major contributors to the World Hunger index. Daily, more than 3,000 children in India die due to malnutrition and starvation. An unhealthy body does not sustain a healthy mind. To fight this evil, we, at Akshaya Patra Foundation, has been helping poor children in government schools enjoy a nutritious and flavorsome food with their mid-day meal scheme.  The quality of food we offer is constantly monitored by a staff of trained cooks. We go the extra length to ensure the results by holding ‘taste-drives’ for Bengaluru residents.

On December 14, Akshaya Patra held the ‘Taste of Joy’ event, which the mayor of Bengaluru, G Padmavathi graciously inaugurated. The food was then served to the public, who enjoyed it a lot. The objective of this drive was to introduce the high standards of Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal to the people of Bengaluru. A lot of attention was received when everyone shared this event on the social media with hashtags #menuofhope, #tasteofjoy and #zerohunger.

Shridham Krishna Dasa, the chief project manager, explained how the children and their parents have loved Akshay Patra’s cooking and the way they organize the daily routine. Now, they are taking it to the general public and the mayor to show their efforts in making Bengaluru a hunger-free zone.

In a world where the ‘luxury’ of food can’t be enjoyed by everyone, Akshaya Patra has made a significant contribution. It started in the year 2000, when Akshaya Patra used to nourish 1,500 children with their finely prepared food. Right now, that number is around 1.6 million. Other than the mid-day meal, their initiatives also include feeding infants and their mothers at Anganwadis, feeding runaway children, disaster relief, and more. Their noble and generous programme are making waves among Bengaluru’s philanthropists.

 

 

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.

akshayapatra

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.

What Makes Every Akshaya Patra Meal a Balanced Diet

BalanceDiet

A balanced diet is one which contains a proper concentration of essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates that help the body function well and maintain good health. This is a necessity in every individual. However, a balanced diet in children is an absolute necessity. At The Akshaya Patra Foundation, they don’t just prepare meals for children; they make sure that every meal that reaches our beneficiaries is enriched with the required components for their physical, cognitive and mental development.

Vitamins and Minerals: Beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots are the most common ingredients found in the mid-day meal on any given day. These are rich in vitamins and minerals that are highly responsible for the mental growth and cognitive development in children.

Carbohydrates: The Akshaya Patra kitchens situated in the Southern region of India prepare rice to suit the local palate, whereas in the North, they provide Rotis to the children. Both the varieties contain sufficient amount of carbohydrates that help store energy in the body. This helps children stay active all through the day.

Proteins: Spinach, potatoes and pulses like lentils and beans are regularly used in the school meals. A major advantage of these vegetables is that they are low in saturated fat and high in fiber which helps keep the body fit and active while also regulating the body’s metabolism.

What’s more, even the ingredients used in garnishing all the vegetable dishes like curry leaves, cardamom, coriander, cumin seeds, and cloves, also have a nutritional concentration in them. At every Akshaya Patra kitchen across 10 states and 22 locations in India, there is no compromise when it comes to including nutritional ingredients in the meal that a child is about to consume.

At our kitchens, they strongly believe that childhood is a sensitive period of development when growth occurs and they want to provide our children with all the nutrients they need to succeed in life.

A Plate Full of Well-Being

fullplate

Ever wondered how Akshaya Patra decides what is right for its beneficiaries? Here is the answer.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation works towards providing the right kind of food to the children with guidance from the Government. After much discussion and research, they decide the daily menu for the children. Below are excerpts from an interview with our nutrition specialist at the Foundation.

1. How is the right quantity of nutrients determined for each child?
The right quantity of nutrients for each child has been determined as per the National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools (MDMS) specified by the government of India.

As per their age group, certain norms are set pertaining to nutrition. A cooked midday meal should primarily provide 450 calories and 12 gm of protein to a child in the age group of 6-10 years. A child who is about 11 to 15 years of age needs a total of 700 Calories and 20 gm of Protein. These meals should also include micro nutrients like Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin A and so on, in adequate quantities.

2. What are the top nutrients each child needs and how is Akshaya Patra ensuring they get these?
Children require different kinds of nutrients but most important are energy, protein, folic acid, vitamin A, iron, calcium and zinc.

The Akshaya Patra recipes contain different food groups (cereals, pulses, vegetables, spices, sugar and jaggery, edible oil and more) to ensure an adequate supply of nutrients.

The recipes are standardised by calculating nutritive values referring the NIN guidelines (nutritive value for Indians as per the National institute of Nutrition ICMR Hyderabad) and our recipes are verified through external lab analysis.

3. How is the quality standard of raw material maintained while procuring for the mid-day meal?
The quality of raw materials is ensured by Supplier Quality Management Programmes. The raw material specifications are circulated to suppliers to ensure they deliver good quality raw materials. The raw materials are thoroughly checked by the TAPF quality team before accepting them for use in the kitchen.

The raw materials need to meet the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) and AGMARK specifications. They are stored following proper storage practices and are utilised as per FIFO (First In First Out) FEFO (First Expiry First Out).

4. What are the health benefits of providing good nutrition?
It helps in overall growth and development of the body and helps to prevent micronutrient deficiencies such as anaemia, vitamin A deficiency and so on. Good nutrition is also scientifically proven to aid the cognitive development of growing children, a factor vital towards helping children succeed in school.

5. Has there been a marked difference in the health of children consuming the mid-day meal (physically and mentally)?
Yes, sufficient intake of the meals has helped and continues to help in the overall development of children belonging to underprivileged sections of the society. It has also helped curb issues like malnutrition, mortality rates, stunted mental and physical growth in underserved children.
The mid-day meal has helped eradicate classroom hunger. Children are now able to concentrate in the classroom and there is an increased participation in extracurricular activities as well.