The impact of mid-day meal in Rajasthan
In 2002, Rajasthan became one of the first states to implement the SC directive of providing cooked mid-day meals in government and government-aided schools across all its 32 districts. Since then there have been noticeable changes in the school environment resulting in increased enrolment at the elementary level, particularly of the girl child, significant improvement in health and quality of education, decrease in school drop-out rate, while also addressing the hunger and malnutrition issue to quite an extent. A 2016 study titled, ‘School Feeding and Learning Achievement: Evidence from India’s Midday Meal Program’ stated, ‘Continued exposure to mid-day meals contributed to an increase in test scores. Reading scores improved by 18% for children exposed for five years to mid-day meals, in comparison to children who had been exposed to mid-day meals for less than a year. The arithmetic test scores witnessed an improvement of 9%.’ To further this impact, The Akshaya Patra Foundation made its advancement towards Rajasthan in February 2004 as a mid-day meal serving NGO in Jaipur.
Akshaya Patra began its service with the introduction of the Jaipur kitchen in February 2004, followed by Baran (2005), Nathdwara (2006), Jodhpur (2013), and Ajmer (2016). To facilitate its Mid-Day Meal Programme, Akshaya Patra follows the centralised format of kitchen in Jaipur, Nathdwara, Jodhpur, and Ajmer, and operates the decentralised format in Baran for being a remote area. The three kitchens at Jaipur, Nathdwara, and Ajmer are ISO 22000:2005 certified facilities affirming the NGO’s commitment towards cleanliness, hygiene and other vital aspects of kitchen operations. Acknowledging the importance of maintaining a local taste for children to enjoy their meal, Akshaya Patra’s menu for mid-day meal in Rajasthan include rice, roti (Indian flatbread), dal (lentils curry), pulao (a rice-based dish cooked in a seasoned broth) and vegetable dishes. The strategic expansion of the NGO has resulted in its current beneficiary base of 1,70,723 children in 2,672 schools.
Taking reference from two impact studies: Akshaya Patra: Feeding India’s Schoolchildren — Harvard Business School 2007, and Assessment of Mid-Day Meal Programme in eight states — Sigma Research and Consulting Pvt. Ltd. 2014, it is observed that Akshaya Patra’s school meal programme resulted in consistent attendance of children, decrease in drop-outs and long absences, improved concentration, and significant improvements in nutritional level, height, and weight. Along with impacting the lives of children in Rajasthan, Akshaya Patra is also feeding children across 11 more states and has a total beneficiary base of over 1.6 million children. While it is moving ahead on its path to feed 5 million children by 2020, it requires your generous support. By choosing to donate towards this NGO you will also avail the benefits under 80G tax exemption in India. Come and join in the efforts of Akshaya Patra so that ‘No child in India is deprived of education because of hunger.’