The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in India implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. It provides freshly cooked and nutritious mid-day meals in India to 18,00,907 children across 19,039 Government schools and Government-aided schools. This children NGO serves locally palatable wholesome meals from its 52 kitchens operating in 12 States and 2 Union Territories.
Services Provided by – The Akshaya Patra Foundation
The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mid-day meal program serves wholesome school lunches to over 1.8 million children, in 19,257 schools, across 12 states and 2 Union Territories in India every day.
The kitchens work according to ISO guidelines, with 17 kitchens ISO accredited. They have adopted Six Sigma, Kaizen, blockchain, IoT technologies, and follow stringent quality control measures and procurement practices based on standards adopted from the Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA).
With frugal innovation, the centralized kitchens of Akshaya Patra cook between 10,000 to 250,000 meals within six hours, prioritizing innovation, efficiency, and safety. They employ 7,300 men and women, 30% of whom are women. Cooking time to eat is 4 hours or less.
In locations where difficult geographical terrain does not support a centralized kitchen model, they have successfully created a decentralized model where women from the local area cook up to 5,000 meals daily. This paradigm offers a reliable stream of income for rural women and thereby helps them break the cycle of poverty.
Akshaya Patra – A non-profit organization
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a secular non-profit organization that cooks, transports, and serves 1,8 million midday meals every day in 19,257 schools across 12 states and 2 Union Territories in India to government school children.
They work closely with the Department of Food Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and The National Institute of Health and Family Welfare in India to design a vegetarian menu that will include the appropriate amount of lipids, micronutrients, calories and proteins required for safe growth by growing children. The menu is designed to cater to the preferences of the local palate and is continuously optimized to improve taste and nutrition.
Children entering Akshaya Patra schools come from low-income households who usually earn less than $2.00 a day and are unable to afford food, wheat, and milk – essentially, the absolute essentials that a child wants to develop.
They provide unlimited food. Second and third helpings are always available. Frequently, younger siblings of students come to school at mealtime or students pack leftovers in containers to take home.
Akshaya Patra provides daily, balanced-nutritious meal, consisting usually of three items, with dessert served once a week. Meals are also complemented with peanut butter paste, enriched rice, and other creative approaches to increase the number of calories and nutrients.
Cost of Meal Breakdown
- 90% of funds go towards feeding children
- 10% goes towards very low overhead costs
Food is the fuel the body needs to function optimally. They could be sitting in a class in an ivy-league school, and if they haven’t eaten in the last 24 hours nothing makes sense. Growing children need to eat a good meal that provides them with fuel to learn and engage with life.
Children drop out of school because they need to work to support themselves and their families. Their failure to consume only one nutritious meal a day seriously restricts their capacity to learn and pursue adequate education in the classroom.
They provide a hospitable environment and the resources necessary to help children succeed at school. The program has been proven to increase the net enrollment ratio (especially girls), attendance, and performance levels of students in primary grades.
An creativity and development culture has ensured that Akshaya Patra will easily scale production to meet more students.
- Chapatti (roti) Baking System – The custom-designed chapatti machines can cook 60,000 chapattis per hour.
- Rice Preparation System – The advanced steam-based rice preparation system can prepare 1,200 liters of rice in just 15 minutes. Easy-tilt cauldrons enable rapid transfer of cooked rice to specially designed insulated containers for distribution.
- Daal/Sambar System – Sambar is produced in custom cauldrons capable of preparing 1,200 liters of sambar in 15 minutes.
- Green Energy – Thermite boilers in the kitchens burn sustainable agri-waste (ground nutshells and grain husks) briquettes to reduce carbon emission and cooking times. Each briquette boiler saves 788.95 Megatons of carbon from being released in the atmosphere.
- Until frying, rice and vegetables are triple-washed and the same water is reused to wash delivery automobiles.
The Mid-day Meal Scheme
Compassion and efficiency are at the heart of the foundation’s program. Akshaya Patra is the world’s biggest midday meal service according to TIME Magazine, with a goal to provide nutritious food for schooling.
- Akshaya Patra showed a consistent track record of frugal creativity and organizational performance by growing from 1,500 meals to 1,8 million meals a day over a 20-year stretch.
- With ISO standard kitchens, six sigma, Kaizen, blockchain, IOT technologies, and a keen eye on quality and hygiene, the cost per meal is only 0.20 cents. Only $20.00 feeds a child for an entire school year.
- They provide unlimited food, and second helpings are always available. Frequently, younger siblings of students come to school at mealtime or students pack leftovers in containers to take home.
- Akshaya Patra has 29 additional kitchens in the pipeline and aims to extend over the next 2 years to new locations over Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu, Madhya Pradesh, Pondicherry, Goa and Bihar.
- The goal is to serve 5 million meals every day by 2025.
The table below shows the dietary requirements required as set out in the Central Mid-Day Meal Scheme:
|Calories||450 Cal||700 Cal|
|Protein||12 grams||20 grams|
|Micro-nutrients||Adequate quantities of micro-nutrients like Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin-A, etc.|
Awards for Excellency
Several of Akshaya Patra’s transparency distinctions and best practices include:
- For seven straight years since 2008-09, the ICAI Gold Shield Award for “Excellence in Financial Reporting”
- Akshaya Patra is India’s first NGO to be in the Hall of Fame at ICAI.
- Charity Navigator’s highest 4 Star Award for Financial Health and Transparency.
- Awarded as Global Food Champion 2019 by the BBC World Service.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation – COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, working along with its partners, donors, volunteers, and well-wishers, has time and again come forward to aid the Government’s disaster relief work across India.
As the nation goes under complete lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, Akshaya Patra has been aiding the Government’s efforts by providing food relief to vulnerable communities, such as migrant laborers and homeless people. The Foundation is doing this through its network of kitchens, working closely with the Government of India, State Governments, and other civic administrations.