One piece of bread a day
Was all I had
Sometimes, I would break it in half
Sometimes, I could make it toast
My children's bellies full
My stomach churning
I drank water
To calm the burning
I had more than most
Reminding myself of those
Who have a handful of rice
Once a week
They know fear
They know pain
They know hunger
Far better than I ever could
Hungry Kya? This phrase surely rings a bell in your head. For haven't we all seen these advertisements of Domino's Pizza splashed all over the billboards in NCR and on TV too. The enticing advertisement never fails to start hunger pangs and the next thing yo do is dial up for Home delivery. Within 30 minutes the freshly baked Pizza is delivered right at your doorstep, complete with olives and cheese imported from Italy and an assortment of exotic veggies and herbs or a non veg extravaganza, depending on your palate preferences.
But what is a gourmet's delight for us, is a far fetched reality for many. Especially for the underprivileged children. A shocking reality is that millions of school going children don't get two square meals a day and hence go without education. School is never a priority for them. Instead they take up menial jobs to fill their empty stomachs. We have all seen urchins dressed in rags furiously wiping your windscreen in the vain hope that you'll give them a coin or two.
Keeping this in mind a NGO, AKSHAYA PATRA has been doing praiseworthy work since a decade by providing mid day meal for millions of children across India..
Akshaya Patra means an inexhaustible vessel. It was a wonderful vessel given to Yudhistara by Lord Surya, which held a never failing supply of food to the Pandavas everyday.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, TAPF, started in 2000 in Bangalore by providing mid day meal to 1500 children in 5 schools . And today it reaches out to 1.2 million children everyday.
TAPF is a unique organization for children, supported by the Government, Corporates, Businessmen and Philanthropists.
Its vision, " No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger".
It is patronized by well known celebrities from His Excellency Dr Abdul Kalam, Narayan Murthy, Smt Pratibha Patil, Azim Premji, Abhishek Bachhan and many more.
It has earned its place in the Limca Book of records for being the largest Non Profit organization in the world to implement the Mid day Meal programme . Today it has expanded to 18 location across 8 states. Its path braking records have been recognized by President Barack Obama and Harvard School of Business.
So what is the secret of Akshya Patra's success in just a decade?
A few pointers:
The Akshaya Patra program uses centralized automated kitchens for cooking food which is distributed to schools through special purpose vehicles.
Akshaya Patra's kitchens can cook around 100,000 meals in less than five hours with least human intervention and sustained quality.
A three item menu is served to children , as per recommendations of qualified nutritionists.
Due to extensive mechanization of kitchen, the program is able to offer children standardized, hygienic, high quality meals.
Akshaya Patra is a secular not- for - profit programme implemented only in government schools where there is no discrimination whatsoever.
The Program is independently governed by a Board of Trustees..
Statistics prove that Akhsya Patra has resulted in increased enrollment and attendance in schools, improved nutritional status of these children , enhancing their learning abilities and reducing drop out rates.
All contributions to Akshaya Patra are eligible for 100% Tax deductions.
With its vision to ensure that no child in India is deprived of education because of Hunger, TAPF is aiming to create a human resources pool that will propel India into a developed nation.
This post is an entry for the Akshaya Patra contest , but even without the contest, the incentive for me is that my post will feed 50 children. And i am happy to give my contribution to Akshaya Patra. I am doing my bit and now its your turn to do the same. So, in the new year join hands with this one-of -a kind NGO and donate for the future generations of our country.
You can donate online by clicking on DONATE.
You can also read more about the foundation and watch videos by visiting the website.
Here is wishing Akshay Patra achieves its target of reaching out to 5 million children by 2020, and our children can say Good Bye Hunger and Hello Zindagi.