Akshaya Patra, a hit in Orissa

via http://www.dnaindia.com/academy/report_akshaya-patra-a-hit-in-orissa_1269440 published on July 4, 2009

Bangalore: The mid-day meal programme, started by ISKCON in Orissa in association with the government of that state, has decreased the number of school dropouts.ISKCON Bangalore had extended the Akshaya Patra Programme to Orissa in 2006 March. The programme started with 1,500 students from different government schools and now their number has reached nearly 50,000.
Mona Singh, secretary of the department of women and child welfare, has appreciated the initiative. “Akshaya Patra Programme has helped increase the students’ intake of food and we are happy with the programme,” said Mona Singh.”Chief minister Navin Patnaik had asked me to study the mid-day meal programme in Karnataka which is headed by Akshaya Patra Foundation. I visited Akshaya Patra Bangalore and was impressed by their hygiene and commitment and the quality of food that they served and decided to implement it in Orissa. Compared to the last 2-3 years the number of students joining the schools has increased,” she added.

Students love the food served by Akshaya Patra. “The food is very tasty and I like the rice and dalma. We are happy because there is no restriction on the quantity of food and we can eat till it fills our tummies,” said Rohith Seth, a class 5 student.
The Orissa government is also planning to extend the programme to the naxal and drought affected areas.

“We want to extend our service to other parts of Orissa but the lack of manpower is causing a delay” said Achyutha Krishna Das, chief coordinator, Akshaya Patra Foundation. “We are planning to get the villagers’ help to expand our project in the drought affected Kalahandi, Koraput and Bolangir,” he added.

Akshaya Patra is serving rice, dalma, matar channa, alu channa, curds, kheer on regular days and pulav on Saturdays. “We will change the menu in future. Instead of curds we have decided to give paneer because in Orissa the children don’t like curds and paneer has the same calcium as curds,” he said. The programme is not restricted to school children in the state. It is also feeding nearly 300 people, mainly rikshaw drivers, who are below poverty line, everyday.

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