Bengaluru-based NGO, Akshaya Patra Foundation strives to eliminate classroom hunger by implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme at government and government-aided schools. It aims at countering malnutrition and supporting the right to education for socio-economically disadvantaged children. Manasa Mukka finds out more about their new Swiss Chapter.
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Would you be able to learn if ‘hunger’ was your classmate? Simple answer: No. Classroom hunger affects children’s ability to learn and grow. To solve this challenge, Akshaya Patra, started the Food for Education initiative that continuously strives to feed children from over 13,000 schools in India.
Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit) Mid-Day Meal Programme, serving wholesome food on every school day to over 1.8 million children from 19,039 schools across 12 states and 2 Union Territories in India.
About Akshaya Patra Foundation
With the vision: “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger,” Akshaya Patra started the Mid-Day Meal Programme in June 2000, serving mid-day meals to 1,500 children across five government schools in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
With support from the central and state governments, the NGO has formulated a set of rules and guidelines related to children’s health and growth, their age-specific caloric and protein needs, grain allotment quantities, etc.
Akshaya Patra has formed public-private partnerships with several governments, including those of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujrat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, to name a few. Corporate partners working closely with them include Hindustan Petroleum, Raymond, SBI, card, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank DHL, Novartis. Organisations such as Infosys Foundation, One World and Lions Club also back up the activities of this NGO.
Their mission: to feed 5 million children by 2025.
How they work
Akshaya Patra combines good management, innovative technology, and smart engineering to deliver nutritious and hygienic school lunches on every school day. From preparation to delivery of mid-day meals, the kitchens operate every day, keeping in mind the two most important elements: hygiene and quality. They work out of both centralised and decentralised kitchens. Their state-of-the-art kitchens have become a subject of study and have attracted curious visitors from around the world.
Centralised kitchens run across the 12 states and 2 union territories. They manage operations from a single point of control for the entire cycle of mid-day meal preparation. These semi-automated kitchens have the capacity to make, typically up to 100,000 mid-day meals a day, adhering to Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) to ensure safe handling, preparation and delivery of the food.
Using highly mechanized units, Akshaya Patra is able to achieve significant levels of hygiene by reducing human contact with the food. After cooking, the food is packed into stainless steel containers and transported via conveyor belts to be loaded into custom made food distribution vehicles, to be taken to the beneficiary schools.
Decentralised kitchens are set up in locations where geographical terrain and bad road connectivity make it difficult to set up a large infrastructure. They are run by trained women self-help groups (SHGs) that undertake the cooking process under the guidance of Akshaya Patra. While the decentralized kitchens prepare mid-day meals for school children, they also help in building SHGs with sustainable income and social standing.
The Akshaya Patra Swiss Chapter
The Akshaya Patra Foundation Switzerland chapter was founded in April 2020. The Switzerland chapter has been formed by individuals within the Indian diaspora who believe in the core values of giving back to serve the socio-economically disadvantaged children in India.
Vauhini Telikapalli is the President and member of the Executive Committee of the Switzerland Chapter. She brings 30 years of global corporate experience and has held senior management positions at Fortune 100 companies in the US and Switzerland. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from India and a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the US. She is responsible for seeking corporate sponsorships, collaborating with Universities and public-private institutions (UN/WEF) to spread awareness of the Akshaya Patra experience and collaborate at federal, state and local government levels in Switzerland.
Rajesh Chavan is the Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of the Switzerland Chapter. He is responsible for shaping and leading the youth ambassador programme and seeking sponsorship by organising sporting events. He has held several senior management positions at multinational companies in Switzerland and India. With a Bachelor’s degree in Material Science and Metallurgy Engineering and an MBA from IIM, Bangalore, he is an avid sportsperson and is passionate about youth community development through sports, culture and music.
Aruna Kapoor is the Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of the Switzerland Chapter. She is responsible for shaping and leading the volunteers’ team and for organising cultural and social fundraiser events. She brings in 40 years of global corporate experience and has held several senior management positions at multinational companies in Switzerland and India and was the CEO of a power generation company in Israel. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering and is passionate about Indian classical dance and music. She is actively involved in community activities and has been president of the Indian Association Baden for several years.
Amar Kavi is the Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of the Switzerland Chapter. He is responsible for organising corporate sponsorships, and help collaborate at local, regional and federal government levels. He is a successful entrepreneur, owner and board member of his company. He is an active community volunteer and has promoted several Indian cultural and social events in Switzerland. In 2016, he worked as a special representative of Switzerland at Andhra Pradesh State Economic Development Board, India.
Plans and Activities
To sponsor one school in India, you need CHF 3,700 per year. The goal is to raise CHF 150,000 per year.
In response to the urgent need of the COVID19 situation, the Swiss chapter has set an ambitious goal of raising CHF 30, 000. Since April, they have successfully completed 3 online fundraiser events and have managed to reach 20% of their target. The plans for the next year include other fundraisers with fun and food, a charity walk, a dance drama on the story of Akshaya Patra, and a grand Gala.
As part of the future plans, the Swiss chapter will focus on:
- Spreading and raising awareness about the Akshaya Patra experience and help celebrate The Akshaya Patra story in Switzerland
- Providing a common platform to connect the global diaspora in Switzerland to their roots in India
- Building a volunteer network of community, professional and youth ambassadors
- Seeking Corporate Sponsorship
- Collaborating with Universities and Institutions
- Organising community and sporting events to raise funds
- Building alliances at local, regional and federal government levels
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