The Akshaya Patra Foundation – Providing Nutrition to Needy Children

The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Bengaluru, Bharat. This organisation strives to eliminate classroom hunger by implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the government schools and government-aided schools. It has established partnership with the Government of Bharat and various State Governments, along with corporates and individual donors.

Akshaya Patra started the Mid-Day Meal Programme in June 2000 by serving mid-day meals to 1,500 children across five government schools in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.66 million children from 14,173 schools across 11 states in Bharat. Akshaya Patra strives to feed 5 million children by 2020.

To improve primary education and counter classroom hunger, the Government of Bharat has developed the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS). Many kids studying in government schools come from such background where their family cannot afford nutritious basic meals. Thus, providing one time meal to the children works as an incentive for such kids to attend regular schools and get safe, nutritious and hygienic meals – food that helps in their growth.

The Foundation currently operates 26 centralised kitchens and 2 decentralised kitchens. The decentralised kitchens are managed by women’s self-help groups (SHGs) and are overseen by Akshaya Patra employees.

Inspired by the vision of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Madhu Pandit Dasa, the Chairman of the Foundation’s board leads this dedicated team.

The ‘Akshaya Patra’

Akshaya patra, which means an inexhaustible vessel, finds its mention in Mahabharata. This vessel fed an inexhaustible supply of food each day to the Pandavas, until Draupadi partook her portion of food, during their 12 years exile.

Going by the mention of this term in Hindu history, The Akshaya Patra Foundation is standing true to its name.

The Mega Kitchen of The Akshaya Patra Foundation

This documentary featured Hubballi (in Karnataka) kitchen of TAPF that prepared 175000 meals in just 5 hours duration daily, to be supplied to students in nearby government schools. A finely designed kitchen looked like a factory with 3 floored building, each floor designated to various processes of cooking and packaging.

The dedicated staff ensures the quality check at each step, right from procuring raw materials like vegetables, rice, pulses etc., to the final check when the food reaches schools.

The kitchen is not an ordinary kitchen. With huge cooking vessels holding tonnes of food, they have engineered their process in such a way that the whole process works smoothly maintaining quality of food. Their quality process can be trusted as 13 of their kitchens are ISO certified and the remaining is in the process of getting certification.

Finances

Running such a large scale programme needs lots of funds. The government through its scheme provides subsidy to TAPF but seeing such huge scale production, even the cumulative expenses of all meals taken together comes out to be very big.

 Cost Per Meal Calculation:

Cost Elements Cost Per Meal
PROGRAMME COSTS  (Cost of materials & utilities, distribution costs and factory overheads including manpower, repairs, depreciation and other factory running  expenses) 9.34
Operating Costs 0.85
Administrative Overheads (Cost of activities relating to general management and administration) 0.34
Outreach Costs (Cost of publicity, communication, advertising and travel related) 0.30
Donor Care & Reporting Costs (Cost of activities relating to donor receipt, tax exemption certificate, program reporting) 0.21
Gross Cost Per Meal in INR. ( 9.34+0.34+0.30+0.21 ) 10.19
Less: Subsidy from Government per meal 6.10
Cost Absorbed by TAPF Per Meal (10.19 – 6.10) 4.09
National Average of School Working Days in an Academic Year 232
Cost to run MDM program for 1 child per year ( 4.09*232 ) In INR 948.88
Total Rounded Off (INR) 950

 Source: The Akshaya Patra Foundation

It can be seen that cost of meals provided to a child per year comes out to be approx. Rs 950. Now one can imagine this cost for providing meals to 1.66 million children (approx. Rs 1577 million).

They maintain transparency of accounts and donations received and their audited annual financial statements are available on their website for the public to view.

They also seek donations under Section 35AC and 80G of the Income Tax Act. The Ministry of Home Affairs has accorded them the permission to collect overseas donations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 1976. To donate, visit – https://www.akshayapatra.org/onlinedonations

Conclusion

There are many contexts from the Hindu history that have inspired people to take up huge projects for the benefit of humanity. The Akshaya Patra Foundation also serves as an example that inspires many people to come together for a noble cause. We request all to contribute to this noble endeavour.


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