ISKCON’s initiative for poor children

via Express News Service- published on November 14, 2008

While parents of children studying in good private schools pack lunch boxes according to their kids’ choice, there are many others who can barely afford daily provisions for their family, let alone the additional burden of paying for their children’s education.

Assuming the role of a nutrition-conscious parent, Akshaya Patra sends healthy and delicious food to more than nine lakh children, at least half of them from Karnataka alone. Intiated by ISKCON, the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal service for children started in the year 2000 with four schools in Rajajinagar, Bangalore.

Today it has crossed 4,500 schools in 16 locations across six states including Karnataka. Out of 9.57 lakh children totally, 2.10 lakh children studying in 900 schools are fed daily in Bangalore alone.

Five ISKCON kitchens are ISO certified, of which three are in Karnataka. Two among these, the ones in Bangalore, serve 900 children, using up a daily ration of 13 tonnes of rice, six tonnes of dal, eight tonnes of curd and eight tonnes of vegetables. Rice-sambar and curd are packed and sent to schools by noon. The kitchens also serve special dishes including sweets twice a week. In Bangalore, 350 people are deployed by Akshaya Patra, delegated for tasks that cover everything from cooking to transportation.

The meals’ cost of Rs 4.50 to Rs 5 per plate per child is jointly borne by the state government, corporate sponsors and ISCKON missionaries.

As per a study conducted by AC Nielsen, enrollment in schools has improved by 23 percent during the first year of program implementation in Bangalore. Akshaya Patra seems to be living up to its motto: that ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’.

Though it began with a target of feeding 10 lakh children by 2010, the scheme has already already reached 9.57 lakh children. The organisation continues to be on the lookout for contributions from corporates as well as individuals. To know more and to donate to the scheme, visit www.akshayapatra.


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