A few weeks back, I read A Moveable Feast Across Gujarat Schools in The New Indian Express. The following excerpts (slightly edited) from this article impressed me tremendously:
“The (roti-making) machine can turn out 60,000 rotis in an hour.”
“With a capacity to produce 2,00,000 meals in five hours, the Bhadaj kitchen is one of the largest cooking facilities in India.”
“The daily challenge is to ensure the freshly cooked meals can reach the schools within minimum cook-to-consumption time. For this, some technologies used in manufacturing industries have been adapted to the kitchen, perhaps for the first time.’’
“The roti-making machine became a necessity, when the Bangalore-based Foundation found that their rice-based meals were not currying favour with north Indian children. At Vrindavan, the team found children were not consuming much rice. Since the idea is to optimise nutrition, rotis were needed to increase consumption.”
“In Gujarat, the set lunch menu also includes local favourites like dal dhokli, thepla or sukdi, a jaggery-based sweet apart from the staples of roti-sabzi-dal-rice. The idea is to get children to eat more. Idlis have proven to be popular in Vadodara, so the Foundation plans to add this to the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar menu in future.”
“All machines are linked to conveyors and chutes that channel the prepared food down to the ground floor without any human handling. They are loaded onto vehicles that are customized to hold vessels upright in a honeycomb structure and designed for minimal temperature loss between leaving the kitchen and reaching the school.’’
A Moveable Feast Across Gujarat Schools is NOT about the high-tech kitchen run by a 5-star hotel for a group of international schools in Gujarat. It is about Akshaya Patra Foundation’s kitchen at Bhadaj, near Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar, which supplies about 1,30,000 lunches to around 526 schools in seven talukas of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar districts as part of the Midday Meal Scheme, a programme of the Government of India that supplies free lunches on working days for children in schools to improve the nutritional health of school-going kids in India.
I was impressed because:
1. The Akshaya Patra Foundation obviously does not treat the Midday Meal Scheme as a favour to the beneficiaries. The fact that it modifies the menu according to the preferences of the beneficiaries shows that it treats the beneficiaries in the same way as an upscale restaurant treats its patrons.
2. The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s kitchens are designed, built and operated in an extremely professional manner.
Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to over 1.4 million children from 10,661 schools across 10 states in India.
After reading A Moveable Feast Across Gujarat Schools and going through the website, I am convinced that the best way to end classroom hunger is by supporting Akshaya Patra Foundation to spread its activities to many more schools in more states all over India.
To start with, each of us can feed a child for a year by donating only Rs. 750. This amounts to just Rs. 2.06 per day, which is almost nothing!
How can Rs. 750 feed a child for a year? Here’s how:
Cost per meal: Rs. 7.40
Government Subsidy: Rs. 4.38
Cost to Akshaya Patra: Rs. 3.02
No. of working days: 232
(Rs. 3.02 x 232) + 7.5% provision for inflation = Rs. 750 per child per year
Donations over Rs. 500 get 100 % Tax Exemption under IT Sec 35AC and 80G. Click here to make an online donation.
Each blogger can feed a child for a year without donating a single rupee! How? By publishing a blog post for Blog to Feed a Child. For every blog entry, BlogAdda will feed an Akshaya Patra beneficiary for an entire year! I request all bloggers who haven’t yet taken part in this initiative to visit Blog to Feed a Child, publish a post about the theme as per the instructions, and spread the word to others.
Let us all contribute to this noble cause.