“When Buddha sat with his disciples asking them who would take forward the responsibility of serving food to people, a bhikshuni said she would do it. She added that if each of them contributed a bit to the cause, the responsibility wouldn’t seem that hard.”
A vision to ensure that no child is deprived of education because of hunger turned into a full-fledged movement when the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) celebrated serving 2 billion meals to government school children, a journey which began in 2001. Hon’ble President Pranab Mukherjee participated in the 15th year celebrations of the Akshaya Patra Foundation and commemorated serving two billion meals programme at ISKCON Bangalore. The dignitaries in attendance were Shri Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala – Governor of Karnataka; Shri Siddaramaiah – Chief Minister of Karnataka; Shri Prakash Javadekar – Union Minister of Human Resource Development; Dr Murli Manohar Joshi – Member of Parliament, Former Minister of HRD, and Science & Technology, and Mrs Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation.
About the Akshya Patra Foundation
As a not-for-profit organisation, the Akshaya Patra Foundation works to fight the social issues – hunger and illiteracy in India. Since its inception in 2000, the organisation has been working tirelessly to reach more children with fresh, healthy food every day. Akshaya Patra has grown from its humble beginning of feeding just 1,500 children at five schools in 2000 to feeding over 1.4 million at 10,845 schools across ten states in India.
Awards and Achievements
Akshaya Patra has been awarded the ICAI Gold Shield Award for ‘Excellence in Financial Reporting’ five years in a row since the financial year 2008-09. This has led to the organisation’s induction to the ICAI Hall of Fame. Akshaya Patra has also been ranked 23rd amongst the world’s top hundred NGOs by the Global Journal.
The programme of the 15th year celebrations of the Akshaya Patra Foundation
The program began with the arrival of the President of India. An invocation prayer was sung by an all children’s choir. President Pranab Mukherjee besides unveiling the 2 billion meal commemorative art installation, also distributed symbolic commemorative treats to school children. He also addressed the gathering at the event.
Addressing the occasion, President stated that the occasion gives everyone an opportunity to appreciate the significance and strength of a fresh and nutritious mid-day meal. He said, “Hunger is still a major concern for the country. Over six decades ago, we made a constitutional commitment to provide free compulsory education to students up to 14 years. Despite the legal framework, we have not met our obligation. What would we do with legal frameworks when we cannot provide our students conducive atmosphere to learn?”
Future Goals of Akshaya Patra Foundation
At present, Akshaya Patra Foundation serves 15 lakh kids and their main aim by 2030 is to serve 5 million students and empower them. Chairman and founder of APF – Madhu Pandit Dasa is Padma Shri recipient. The foundation currently has 26 kitchens across the country, making it the world’s largest school lunch programme. It has been 15 years since cooked mid-day meals became a reality in the country when it was mandated that all government and government-aided schools be provided the service.
With its roots in Karnataka, the foundation has been a frontrunner in providing food for students across the country. Akshaya Patra’s motto of unlimited food for education has a strong resonance with the Akshara Dasoha scheme in the state. But its success is thanks to the active involvement of eminent persons of Karnataka who have supported APF’s efforts for social transformation.