Akshaya Patra’s 2016 Chicago Gala

Executive Board members, prominent leaders, invited guest with Omi Vaidya, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Emily Rosenbaum, CEO and Manisha C Gandhi, Director of Development for Akshaya Patra USA (Posted by Suresh Bodiwala, Community Contributor)

Chicago IL: Over $168,000 was raised at Akshaya Patra's 2016 Chicago Gala on Saturday, May 7th. Nearly 400 philanthropic, community, and business leaders came together to support Akshaya Patra's school meal program, including Mayor of the Village of Burr Ridge Mickey Straub, Vice President of Technology at Allstate Pranava Doctor, and Ambassador Mr. Sayeed.

Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing at Google, was the event's keynote speaker. During his speech, Mr. Kallayil highlighted the culture of innovation that Google and the Akshaya Patra Foundation share. Comedian and actor Omi Vaidya from the movie "3 Idiots" served as the event's Master of Ceremonies.

The event was held at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and began with a welcome reception at 6:30 PM. The event's Host Committee included leaders in the Chicago community, including Himanshu Patel, Ila Vyas, Saroj Patel, Harish Bhatt, Mafat Patel, Swetal Patel, Iftekhar Shareef, Ketu Amin, Neal Patel, Raj Patel, Dipak Kapadia, Dr. Bharat Barai, Dr. Umang Patel, Mohanbir Sawhney, Alok Gaur, Prabhudas Patel, Prashant Sheth, Bhailal Patel, Rushi Shah, and Harnish Patel. Over 400 businesses, non-profit, government, and philanthropic leaders from around the region are expected to attend and support the organization's dual mission of addressing childhood hunger and malnutrition, and to promote education for underserved children in India.

Emily Rosenbaum, CEO of Akshaya Patra USA spoke about Akshaya Patra's work and their process of reaching 1.5 million children daily. Her presentation included the invention of kitchens that produce over 150,000 meals a day. The scaling and technology used by Akshaya Patra reduces the meal cost to merely $15 per year per one child!

Manisha C Gandhi, Director of Development for Akshaya Patra USA honored all the mothers for Mother's Day. Many attendees were able to see photos of them with their children in a collage while the iconic song "Tu Kitni Achhi Hai" was being sung by Manisha. She comes to Akshaya Patra with 20 plus years of sales and marketing experience. She is also the TV Asia Correspondence for Houston. She helped develop the Chicago Chapter for Akshaya Patra USA.

Established in 2000, Akshaya Patra began by serving 1,500 in 5 schools in Bangalore. Today Akshaya Patra is the largest NGO-run school meal programs in the world and serves over 1.5 million children daily in over 11,501 schools through 24 kitchens in ten states in India. This March, Akshaya Patra will celebrate its 15th Anniversary and the serving of its 2 billionth meal to children in India.

Akshaya Patra has received international recognition for its life-changing mission. In 2016, Akshaya Patra's Founder Madhu Pandit Dasa received the Padma Shri Award, India's fourth highest civilian award, for his work with Akshaya Patra. Shridhar Venkat, CEO of Akshaya Patra India, was recognized as being among the 50 Most Impactful Social Innovators in the world. Akshaya Patra was recently awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize, an award established to recognize an organization's outstanding achievements that contribute to the region's sustainable development. 

Source: Chicago Tribune      Dated: May 17, 2016