Bengaluru: Its 12 noon at the government school in DJ Halli, northeast Bengaluru. Hundreds of little faces are fixed on the van that has carried their lunch. For 15 years, every afternoon, the Bengaluru headquartered Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) has been bringing smiles on faces of 1.4 million children.
And in a few weeks, it will serve its two billionth meal.
APF, founded by IITian Madhu Pandit Dasa who was conferred the Padma Shri last month, is the world's largest school lunch programme.
"I still remember the day when I took the first meal to a government school. The children loved it. I did not believe that we would go with the food the next day. But for 15 years now, we have been able to sustain," Dasa said. From ensuring that no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger, the scheme has won many accolades for its transparency, hygiene and tech savvy delivery of cooked meals.
Says APF CEO Shridhar Venkat: "Growth has not been a challenge but sustainably growing is a challenge. Every time we start a kitchen, children come with a hope that they will get a good meal every day. Ensuring food safety especially at the school level which is the last mile and on a daily basis is a challenge. The road ahead is to implement innovative ideas in operations, fundraising and sourcing. We also would like to freely share our learnings with any organigation or an individual who wants to work on alleviating hunger amongst children."
APF trustee T V Mohandas Pai told TOI: "I think the reason for our success has been how different competencies which are mutually inclusive and collectively exclusive have come together to fight hunger among children."
PM Narendra Modi has congratulated the foundation for the milestone. "I am happy to learn that the foundation will complete 15 years of serving midday meal to schoolchildren and will serve its second billionth meal soon. These milestones and efforts inspire many to serve children," he said.
Source: Times Of India Dated: Feb 10, 2016