Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, talks about their activities with the SSB reporter
What was the prime objective of founding the Akshaya Patra Foundation?
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Bengaluru, India. It strives to fight issues like hunger and malnutrition in India by implementing the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme in government and government-aided schools.
Akshaya Patra aims not only to fight hunger but also to bring children to school. Since 2000, the organisation has worked towards reaching more children with wholesome food on every single school day.
Apart from food and education, what else do you feel is the important achievement of the MDM scheme?
Our country is known for its diversity in many walks. With MDM, we have provided not just food and nutrition for brain and body of the children, but also promoted social equality. There is no caste barrier when children sit together to eat Akshaya Patra food and mingle with each other.
While serving food what are the things that you keep in mind?
The most important part of the MDM scheme is the wholesome nutritious meal. Apart from ensuring the right nutrition for children, Akshaya Patra also adheres to standard practices of safety and hygiene. Some measures taken to maintain the quality of food are OHSAS (Occupation Health and Safety Assessment Series), GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), GHP (Good Hygiene Practices), and FSSAI (Food Safety and Stantards Authority of India) certifications.
You get grants from the government as well as from private donors. Why are both necessary and how you utilise it?
The average cost of one meal is INR 10.23. We get around INR 6 from the Central and State governments (both combined). The Government has given us permission to raise the remaining amount through corporate and individual donors. Around 85% of the money raised is used on procuring raw materials, cooking and food distribution, and the rest is spent on the operations of the organisation.
Apart from schools which other areas do you serve?
Apart from school feeding, we take up these initiatives: Anganwadi feeding, disaster relief, feeding expecting and lactating mothers, feeding programmes in old-age homes, feeding programmes in special schools, feeding runaway children, feeding the homeless, subsidised lunch for the economically disadvantaged, after-class tuitions, health camps, health check-up camps and life-skills programmes.
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