“We don’t want to stop. We want to feed as many children as possible.”
Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman — The Akshaya Patra Foundation
In a population of 1.38 billion people, 39% of the total population comprises of children below the age of 18 years; this means there are around 472 million children in India.
Out of every 100 children, only around 32 children complete their school education (District Information System for Education),
out of which,
19.8 million children below the age of 6, do not get the required nutrition (ICDS 2015).
Due to multiple challenges that come from being a child belonging to lower-income sections of the society, children are either sent off to seek work during school hours or would be forced to work with parents to fend for their families. Amongst a few handful of children who were sent to school, they performed poorly in schools due to a short attention span or would immediately drop out in the lure of earning money.
To change this scenario, the Central Government of India started the Mid-Day Meal Scheme to address the issue of hunger and education. Yet, 50% of India’s children remained undernourished. In the year 2001, mid-day meals were mandated in all Government and Government-aided schools of all the states. With the help of non-profit organisations in India, many children were fed meals in schools. By the end of 2004, 50 million children received school lunches, either provided by the Government or NGO’s working in partnership with the Government. One such NGO in India is The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
What is the story of Akshaya Patra?
To address the dual challenges of education and hunger in India, The Akshaya Patra Foundation was started in the year 2000 with a vision that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’ It began by serving hot and nutritious school meals to 1,500 children studying in five different schools of Bengaluru, Karnataka. By March 2007, the Foundation was serving wholesome meals in 2,000 schools. As of today, mid-day meals are served to 18,00,907 children studying in 19,039 schools of India. It prepares and serves school meals from centralised kitchens situated in 50 locations and decentralised kitchens situated in two locations, spread across 12 States and 2 Union Territories of India.
Impact of mid-day meals on children
Many studies conducted around the impact of mid-day meals have shown an:
· Increase in school enrolment rate, both for boys and girls
· Increase in the attendance rates
· Decrease in school drop-out rates
· Improvement in classroom performance
· Improvement in attention span
· Improvement in nutritional value & energy
What the students have to say:
To read more such stories of beneficiaries of The Akshaya Patra Foundation, click here.
Bring about healthy changes in the lives of children with your donation. When you support Akshaya Patra to provide unlimited food for education to children belonging to challenging backgrounds, you are giving back to society to bring about the above-mentioned changes.
If you have any such stories of children whose lives have changed with mid-day meals, do let us know in the comments section below.