Welcome to 2012! I hope that your new year is off to a great start!
Personally, I have had a very exciting beginning to my year as I had the opportunity to travel to India and spend several days observing Akshaya Patra operations in action. I wanted to share my first hand experience, impressions, and photos with you so that you may better understand the program.
During my stay I visited both North and South kitchens and schools (Jaipur and Bangalore) as they prepare different meals based on the dietary preferences of the children who live there. In the South, children are provided rice, sambar (lentils with vegetables) and yogurt, whereas the students in the northern states are served chapati (whole wheat bread), sabzi (vegetables) and dal (lentils). Let me tell you, both of the meals were DELICIOUS. I was blown away that the Akshaya Patra kitchens, while preparing meals for hundreds of thousands of children everyday, can still maintain such flavor in the food. The efficiency with which the kitchens were run also knocked my socks off. These places are technology powerhouses that are put to use for social good.
After eating and touring the kitchen I was able to visit several schools to interact with the children and sit with them during their mid day meal served by Akshaya Patra. The kids were happy, energetic, and diligently studying. When lunch time came they all washed their hands and plates, some of them dug for a spoon in their school bag, and quickly took their place in seated lines. The flurry of activity and noise quickly came to an end as soon as the plates started filling up with food. I have never seen so many children quiet down so quickly. The silence was almost deafening as they all ate. A strange phenomenon in India! What stuck me the most was the very young children that accompany their siblings to school. Children that would normally have to stay home and watch the babies in the family tote them along on their hip and share their mid day meal with them. It was at that point that I was struck by how life changing this program is for a family.
Parents are relieved of the burden of providing meals for their children everyday; a relief when your daily salary is never enough to fill everyone's belly. Children no longer have to work during the day to feed themselves as they have a safe, reliable place to get a meal along with the younger children in the family. Lastly, an education, one of the most proven ways out of poverty, is guaranteed when children come to school for the meal. AMAZING.
If you would like to visit the kitchens and schools of Akshaya Patra we would be happy to arrange a tour for you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before I wrap up here I'd like to remind everyone that Valentines Day is right around the corner and I can't think of any better gift for your sweetie then feeding a child in their name for the next year. Please consider spreading the love this Valentines Day and supporting Akshaya Patra.
All the best,
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