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The Akshaya Patra Foundation
Founded2000
TypeNon Profit Organisation
Location
ProductsMid Day Meals
Revenue
Websitehttp://www.akshayapatra.org/ https://foodforeducation.org

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a non-profit organisation in India that operates a school lunch programme.[1] The organisation was established in 2000. It aims to counter classroom hunger[2] and aid in education of children. It feeds 1,800,907 children every day across India.[3]

The food distributed by Akshaya Patra is perceived to be "hygienic, nutritious and delicious".[4][5][6][7][8]

Background

Go Green Initiative

The Akshaya Patra kitchens produce about 350 kilograms of organic waste each day.[9] In an effort to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, the foundation has set up biogas plants in some of its kitchens. This initiative started with the centralized kitchens at Bellary and Vasanthapura (Bengaluru) on Earth Day (April 22) 2016 [10] and now extends to six kitchens across the country.[11] The biogas plants, with a capacity to process 1 tonne per day (TPD) of organic waste, generate 120 to 150 m3 of biogas the equivalent of 30 kilograms of LPG.[12] This gas is consumed in the kitchen's cooking operations and saves the foundation INR 38,500 per month.[13] This translates to savings of about 10% in total energy consumption required for cooking.[14]

Another green initiative of the foundation is the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at some of its kitchens. Based on the weather these systems produce 80-100 units of electricity per day and this power's the facility's daytime energy requirement e.g. the Bengaluru plant generates 10 kW of power and this is entirely consumed by the facility, whereas the Surat plant generates 12 kW of power with some of the surplus power being fed back to the grid for a credit.[15]

The foundation is open to knowledge sharing in helping other entities achieve their environmental goals. Shridhar Venkat, CEO Akshaya Patra has gone on record to say:[16]

The blueprints and processes of our waste management and clean energy generation systems are available to whomsoever who asks for it.

Other programmes

Certain that the primary cause of Akshaya Patra is to actually complement the creation of Srila Prabhupada by implementation of the mid-day meal programme.[17]

After the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, Akshaypatra undertook a massive food program to feed the migrant workers and any one who is in need for food. They provided cooked food as well as dry grocery kits [18][19]

Akshaya Patra USA

Akshaya Patra USA exceeded its fundraising goal of $3.2m for 2012 by raising $5.6m.[citation needed] This included a generous grant of $2m by Caterpillar Foundation for building a kitchen in Uttar Pradesh, India.[20]

Awards

Prize Year Ref.
1 Rajyotsava Award 2003 [21]
2 Nikkei Asia Prize 2016 [22]
3 Gandhi Peace Prize 2016
4 National Award for Child Welfare 2016
5 BBC’s Global Food Champion Award 2019 [23]

Controversies

Use of public money for faith based nutrition decisions

The foundation, an initiative of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON, claims a religious prerogative of "advocating a lacto-vegetarian diet, strictly avoiding meat, fish and eggs" and considers onions and garlic in food as "lower modes of nature which inhibit spiritual advancement".[24] For every Rs 7.40 Akshaya Patra spends per lunch per day under the mid-day meal scheme, the government provides Rs 4.38.[25] Objections have been raised on religious considerations being part of the government food security scheme in detriment to children's food and nutritional rights.

Alleged irregularities in the foundation's workings

Three of the independent trustees – T.V. Mohandas Pai, Raj P. Kondur, V. Balakrishnan and Abhay Jain – issued statements suggesting that the APF has serious governance issues and has also had to contend with wrongdoings and whistle-blower complaints.[26]

Activists have demanded that the government constitute an impartial inquiry and said that if the charges of diversion of government resources and misuse are found to be true, criminal proceedings should be initiated against the organisation.[27]

A letter by Suresh Senapaty, former Wipro chief financial officer and a former member of the audit committee at Akshaya Patra Foundation, alleged in 2020, among other issues, that costs per meal are far higher than any other organisation for a similar offering.

A two-member committee was formed on 20 November 2020 to look into alleged irregularities in the foundation’s workings. The committee submitted its interim report in February 2021. The committee has sought a report from statutory auditors—EY and KPMG—for additional details, according to the foundation. This report was expected in the month of March 2021.[28]

See also

References

  1. ^ Mid Day Meal Scheme
  2. ^ "classroom hunger". Archived from the original on 15 October 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  3. ^ feeds 1.76 million children every day across India
  4. ^ "Schools prefer midday meals supplied by Akshaya Patra".
  5. ^ "meals provided were prepared scientifically and with required nutritional value".
  6. ^ "Government plans Saturday upgrade for midday meals".
  7. ^ "food prepared by Akshaya Patra has been found to be the HIGHEST QUALITY FOOD and prepared in the CLEANEST environment among all midday meal providers in India".
  8. ^ "Revamp quality of mid-day meals by relooking at the nutrient intake".
  9. ^ Kulkarni, Rajesh (21 August 2017). "Akshaya Patra: Transforming Organic Waste into Clean Energy - Clean Future". Clean Future. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  10. ^ Attri, Ravinder (28 April 2016). "Akshaya Patra adopts a new organic waste to biogas system". Newshour Press. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  11. ^ "This Hyderabad start-up helps you turn your kitchen waste into a biogas". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  12. ^ Madhav, N. (24 June 2015). "IICT's waste-to-biogas tech draws good response". Business Standard India. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  13. ^ Attri, Ravinder (28 April 2016). "Akshaya Patra adopts a new organic waste to biogas system". Newshour Press. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  14. ^ Kulkarni, Rajesh (21 August 2017). "Akshaya Patra: Transforming Organic Waste into Clean Energy - Clean Future". Clean Future. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  15. ^ Kulkarni, Rajesh (21 August 2017). "Akshaya Patra: Transforming Organic Waste into Clean Energy - Clean Future". Clean Future. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  16. ^ Kulkarni, Rajesh (21 August 2017). "Akshaya Patra: Transforming Organic Waste into Clean Energy - Clean Future". Clean Future. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Akshaya Patra is implementation of the mid-day meal programme". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  18. ^ "2 crore meals served to vulnerable communities: Akshaya Patra Foundation". Deccan Herald. 20 April 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Akshaya Patra undertakes relief feeding to support government's efforts during COVID-19 outbreak". The Statesman. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  20. ^ "The Akshaya Patra Team USA". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  21. ^ "ರಾಜ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಪಟ್ಟಿ 1966 ರಿಂದ – 2015 ರವರೆಗೆ" (PDF). Kannada Siri. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  22. ^ Nikkei Asia Prize Website
  23. ^ "The Food Chain Global Champion Award goes to School Meals Project in India". BBC World Service.
  24. ^ Prasad, Sylvia Karpagam & Vandana. "ISKCON-run NGO refuses to follow Karnataka order to include onion, garlic in mid-day meals". Scroll.in. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Are Akshaya Patra Kitchens What They are Made Out to Be?". The Wire. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  26. ^ "Explainer: The Allegations Against Akshaya Patra, and Why a Probe Is Needed". The Wire. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  27. ^ Staff Reporter (24 November 2020). "Nine activists demand enquiry into Akshaya Patra". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  28. ^ "Interim report on Akshaya Patra submitted, more details sought from EY, KPMG". Hindustan Times. 2 February 2021. Retrieved 27 September 2021.