Vats of rice
Bill Brower is a Field Program Officer with GlobalGiving who visited our partners’ projects throughout South and Southeast Asia. On June 17th he visited the Akshaya Patra school lunch production facility in Bangalore. His “Postcard” from the visit:
If you’ve never seen a kitchen set up to make 150,000 lunches each day it’s quite the sight. I have a B.S. in chemical engineering and I felt oddly at home in Akshaya Patra’s operation in Bangalore. Vats of rice. Heating vessels filled with dal. Piping, pumps and valves. Despite the almost disturbing scale, the food being packed into stainless steel containers for transport by truck to hundreds of schools in the area looked appetizing—certainly better than the thawed, highly-processed food I remember from growing up. And the facility looked hygienic and well run.
In 2004 the government in India started requiring schools to provide lunch to students. Some schools set up their own kitchens, but many decided to outsource to organizations like Akshaya Patra. The environmentalist in me is torn between the efficiencies of scale and the advantages of local, distributed, self-sufficient systems. But Akshaya Patra is providing these lunches, which has been shown in studies to increase attendance, decrease the dropout rate and increase concentration.
I was told that they are responsive to students’ tastes. Students wanted a less predictable offering and Akshaya Patra started to mix it up more. They wanted smaller vegetable pieces and Akshaya Patra got new equipment that could chop more finely. They began adding a protein source to one of their dishes recently but students didn’t like the smell so they stopped.
Thank you for supporting this project. Your donation is helping more kids have a more effective school day.