The Earthquake Relief Centralised Kitchen Project, a joint initiative of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Jamsetji Tata Trust and Sipradian Sahayata Sanstha prepared and served its first meals on Saturday, June 19, 2015. The Akshaya Patra Foundation builds and operates award winning centralized kitchens in India from which it delivers hot, nutritious meals to 1.4 million school children across India daily. As such, Akshaya Patra is uniquely qualified to set up an emergency field kitchen in less than one week’s time to aid the survivors of the two devastating earthquakes in Nepal. Shortly after these devastating earthqualkes it was found that tens of thousands of people were homeless and without access to clean water and food.
Thirty-three members of Akshaya Patra’s Team set up the kitchen in five days—a record for the organization. The kitchen is housed in a pre-fabricated structure. The kitchen contains three 600-liter cooking cauldrons to prepare rice, a 1,200-liter cauldron to prepare dal, and vegetable cutting machines. The kitchen follows stringent rules to ensure quality control and that food prepared is nutritious and hygienic.
The kitchen began its operations on Saturday, the 19th, by serving 1,100 people living in camps in Bode, where survivors of the worst affected area of Sindhupal Chowk have been accommodated. The kitchen, which can prepare 10,000 meals an hour up to 100,000 people a day, will also serve survivors in Bhelukhel, Maheswari, Jella, Garun Kund, Kamal Binayak, Thulo Bayasee, Bayasee, Bode, Thali, Gokarneswar and Bhugmati.
Speaking to Mr. Madan, Camp Coordinator at Bode, a homeless camp resident commented, “Despite all the things that have happened we will come up from this. The relief kitchen initiative has also given us the strength to look forward.”
Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, expressed his gratitude saying, “I wholeheartedly thank the Government of Nepal, Jamsetji Tata Trust and Sipradian Sahayata Sanstha for their unflinching support in helping us set up this earthquake relief kitchen facility in the affected area. With their continued involvement, we are confident that we can provide wholesome, nutritious food to those affected in the region and offer comfort during this time.”
About Akshaya Patra:
Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest NGO-run school meal program serving over 1.4 million children in 10,770 government schools in 10 states in India from 24 kitchens. All of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens meet the highest standards of safety and efficiency, and ten of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens have already been certified as FSMS ISO 22000:2005 compliant, which means they meet the standards of the International Food Safety Management System (FSMS).
Akshaya Patra USA supports the mission of the organization by raising funds and awareness for Akshaya Patra amongst supporters in the United States.
Over 60 recipes in just 48 hours.
That was the result of ‘Cookathon for Karnataka – Improving Nutrition in Mid-Day Meals’, an initiative by Ashoka India, Akshaya Patra and Something’s Cooking, held from 10th to 12th of April, 2015.
The challenge of the Cookathon was to use local ingredients in creative ways to improve the nutrition of children benefitting from the mid-day meal. The event was a grand success with participation from 36 cooks and experts who battled it out for 48 hours coming up with nutritious and tasty recipes.
The over 60 recipes were evaluated by a panel of four judges, which included Ms. Vijayalakshmi, Assistant Director, Mid-Day Meal Scheme Karnataka; Mr. Madan, Chief Operating Officer of The Akshaya Patra Foundation; Chef Rajesh from MTR Foods and Ms. Sunetra Roday. The judging panel also included six children from local Government schools. The dishes were evaluated based on the use of local ingredients, nutritional value, size of each portion, and taste.
The best dish selected by the judges was the ragi ladoo by organic farmers K Kallappa and his wife, Sumangala, who had travelled from Bellary to take part in the event. Describing their tasty creation (which was made of sprouted ragi, moong, wheat and jaggery ), Kallappa said, “The idea was to make something nutritious as well as ensure that it takes longer to digest so that children don’t feel hungry. Ragi is rich in calcium, battles anemia and has high fiber content whereas jaggery is rich in minerals such as iron. It’s disheartening to see rice and sugar taking over millets and jaggery which are actually ten times more nutritious. And that’s why we decided to show their benefits through our recipe.”
Some of the other top dishes chosen by Akshaya Patra and the judges were pumpkin chutney, jackfruit-millet pulao, soyabean dal, tomato rice, and will be adapted for bulk production. Besides these, almost all the recipes have the potential to be replicated in the mid-day meal decentralised kitchens.
Speaking on the event Ms. Vijayalakshmi, Assistant Director, Mid-Day Meal Scheme Karnataka said, “In over 32 years of service, I have never witnessed such an event. We now know of a large variety of things we can locally procure that schools to incorporate in their menus. We could also replicate this idea at the district level wherein women cooks can come and exchange recipes. This would highly benefit our children.”
When Savitha and Mounesh began school in Bangalore they were the first in their large family to attend school. “When we joined school, we didn’t know a single alphabet, neither in Kannada nor in English. Even writing our name was a distant dream. But we picked up. Although it took us two years, we were finally on par with fellow classmates”.
Determined to achieve their dreams no matter what the odds, Savitha and Mounesh come from the humblest of origins. The children of farmers from Ahmednagar, their parents were forced to move the family to the slums of Bangalore when severe droughts devastated the crops. Now they struggle to provide for their family of 17 while working irregularly as daily-wage laborers. Studying by candle light and surviving on Akshaya Patra’s nutritious school meals, Mounesh says, “I would push myself to go to school. If not for the mid-day meal, I don’t think I would’ve had the minimum attendance needed to write my annual exams.”
Savitha and Mounesh are the first among their family to become literate. This May they achieved another first—both of them passed their 10th grade exams and are starting college. Savitha dreams of working as a psychologist and Mounesh is studying hard to become a lawyer.
Everyday Akshaya Patra’s school meals are changing the lives of children just like Mounesh and Savitha. For families living on the edge, these wholesome meals are a welcome relief that empowers them to support their children’s dreams of education. With the help of Akshaya Patra’s meals, children who have inherited a legacy of poverty and illiteracy are graduating from college and taking their place in India’s vital future. This Diwali, as your family celebrates the warmth of family and friends, help these children in India realize the illuminating power of education. Your generous Diwali gifts sustain the resilient dreams of these children who are Hungry for School.