How Akshaya Patra implements the Mid-Day Meal Programme
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in India that works on a public-private partnership (PPP) model. It is an implementing partner of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme with steadfast support from The Government of India, the State Governments and philanthropic corporate and individual donors. Under this programme, it provides unlimited food for education to children in Government schools and Government-aided schools. This scheme is a remarkable intervention to bring children back to school every day.
What started off as a vision that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ has grown tremendously to be recognised as the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme; from feeding 1,500 children to feeding 18,00,907 children every day.
Since its inception, Akshaya Patra has steadily and sustainably expanded in different locations across India. Here is a glimpse of its reach across the nation today.
Today, it operates from 52 kitchens, out of which 50 kitchens are centralised and 2 are decentralised. Both types of kitchens give utmost importance to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. Of the total kitchens, 20 kitchens are ISO 22000:2005 certified and the remaining are in the process of certification.
How the Mid-Day Meal Scheme is implemented by Akshaya Patra
To ensure maximum children are benefitted from the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Akshaya Patra operates two types of kitchens:
These kitchens are mainly located in urban and semi-urban areas and act as a node to many schools surrounding it. These are large cooking facilities having the capacity to cook 50,000 to 1,50,000 meals daily with the use of automated machines which also ensure less manual intervention to maintain hygiene.
These kitchens are located in remote areas where there is less connectivity. The difficult terrains of such locations hinder setting up of a large kitchen facility. In such areas, women Self-Help Groups (SHG) take up the cooking process. They are trained and are under constant vigilance of Akshaya Patra’s Process and Quality Officers to ensure adherence to hygiene and cleanliness while preparing the meals.
Samples of raw materials like rice grains, pulses, spices, vegetables are assessed for quality based on standard food safety and quality guidelines by Quality Managers in Akshaya Patra and are purchased in bulk for preparation of meals.
Fresh vegetables are bought on a daily basis. These are sorted based on best quality which are then washed and sanitised. All the kitchens follow the FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expiry First Out) method in order to ensure fresh vegetables and raw materials are used for cooking. This method helps in proper identification, storage and retrieval of raw materials.
The process of cooking begins early in the morning. Vegetables are chopped by the Vegetable cutting machine, root vegetables are peeled using the potato peeler machine, pastes of coconuts and batters for dosa, idly are made using a wet grinder.
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Cauldrons, steamers, rice chutes, trolleys, knives, cutting boards etc., are all sterilised and cleaned to begin the process of cooking. All the vessels utilised in the kitchen are made up stainless steel of 304 grade. Each rice cauldron has a capacity of cooking 500 litres, each dal cauldron has a capacity of cooking 1,200 to 3,000 litres of dal or sambar. For the roti and puri making process, the dough kneader and roti-making machine helps to maintain consistency and hygiene without any manual intervention.
To ensure uniformity of taste, pre-determined measurements for each recipe are used. A supervisor constantly keeps an eye throughout the process to make sure that health and hygiene are constantly kept on mind.
There are a few checkpoints that are followed in the kitchen:
· All the staffs are trained on personal hygiene and food safety.
· Food is cooked only in stainless steel of grade 304.
· Critical cooking points and temperatures are monitored closely.
The cooked items are then transferred into insulated containers through rice and sambar chutes which are then lined up on conveyor belts to be transported.
Packing & Transportation
The cooked food is then transferred to steam sterilised vessels which are made up of stainless steel 304 grade. The vehicles in which these food containers are loaded into, are sterilised before the loading process. These vehicles have a puffed up body which helps in reduction of loss of temperature. The delivery vans are made up of a honeycomb structure that can hold all the vessels and utensils in place without any spillage till it reaches the children.
Delivery and post delivery process
Many methods like Logistic charting for route optimisation and GPRS tracking are adopted to ensure on-time delivery of mid-day meals.
Feedbacks are taken from all the schools on a daily basis while delivering the meals. The Quality Officers review these feedbacks and work on corrective measures to improve the quality and delivery of food.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is on a constant endeavour to improve its operations and quality of service towards children’s mid-day meal service. Healthy meals give children hope; hope that their dreams can be achieved.
Every child has a right to nutritious food and good education. Donate online and enable them to succeed in their life.
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