Akshaya Patra Foundation
|Type||Not for Profit - Registered Trust|
|Motto||"Unlimited Food for Education"|
A story of compassion is the stepping stone to the beginning of The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
It was one of those life-changing encounters of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada when he saw a group of children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. This heartbreaking incident brought to fore the determination that: No one within a ten mile radius of our centre should go hungry. In June 2000, this inspiration was given the form of The Akshaya Patra Foundation to feed the children of Government schools with a thoughtful and conscientious vision of “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger".
This Indian NGO sure did understand the correlation between food and education in bringing children to school. Venu Vadana Gopal Dasa, a full-time missionary of ISKCON Bangalore did a detailed research in and around the city of Bangalore to locate the schools that were in maximum need of a mid-day meal programme. Moved by the plight of children in areas like Peenya, Chikkabidarakalu and Makali, The Akshaya Patra Foundation began the mid-day meal programme in June 2000 by feeding 1,500 children in 5 Government schools of Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
Over a period of time a visible improvement in the health of the children was witnessed along with increased enrolment, steady attendance and better concentration during class hours. The initial days of implementing the programme was not smooth sailing for the Foundation. The main concern was lack of vessels and vehicles to pack and transport the cooked food to the schools. Mohandas Pai and Abhay Jain, two of the pioneer philanthropists of the Foundation were instrumental in bringing some relief. Mohandas Pai stepped in by donating the first vehicle to deliver food to the schools and Abhay Jain assured to get more donors to further the programme.
Once the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was mandated centrally by the Government of India in 2003, Akshaya Patra partnered with the Government to serve cooked meals at all Government schools. To be able to work towards tackling classroom hunger in association with the Government on the format of Public Private Parternship was a welcome progression for Akshaya Patra. This Partnership works towards meeting the following objectives:
- Eliminating classroom hunger 
- Increasing school enrolment
- Increasing school attendance
- Improving socialisation among castes
- Addressing malnutrition, and
- Women empowerment
"No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger" 
To reach out to 5 million children by 2020 
To improve primary education and counter classroom hunger the Government of India has developed two of the most significant programmes-
Through the flagship programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Government of India aims to achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, by making available free and compulsory education to the children aged between 6–14 years.
However, the socio-economic scenario of India did require an incentive to further the SSA initiative. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme came by as an answer. The MDMS focuses on providing free school lunch at all Government schools in order to enhance enrolment, retention and attendance among children and also simultaneously to improve their nutritional levels. It was indeed a noteworthy initiative as the impact of this Scheme was progressively seen across the country. Witnessing the impact, the education sector received a 17% increase in budget allocation for the programme. A total of around 11 crore children across 12 lakh schools are benefitting from the MDMS programme.
Akshaya Patra implements the programme Mid- Day Meal programme in 22 locations of nine states of India. Each day the Foundation feeds 1.3 million children covering more than 10,000 Government schools. The Foundation follows both centralised and decentralised kitchen formats to implement the programme . The NP-NSPE guidelines cite the Foundation's centralised kitchen format as a model infrastructure for large scale production of mid-day meals. Akshaya Patra also serves as a Member of the National Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (NSMC) for the Mid-Day Meal Programme.
The Akshaya Patra Kitchen Infrastructure will give an overview of its compliance to Food Safety and Quality Standards while preparing the meals. 11 centralised kitchens of the Foundation are ISO 22000:2005 certified and the remaining are in the process of getting certification.Working in partnership with the Central Government and various State Governments, along with the support of numerous philanthropists Akshaya Patra strives to feed 5 million children by 2020.
Certain that the primary cause of Akshaya Patra is implementation of the mid-day meal programme. But, apart from the mid-day meal programme Akshaya Patra implements other feeding and socio-developmental initiatives too. Some of the programmes are:
|Feeding Programmes||Socio-developmental Initiatives|
|Anganwadi feeding||After class tuitions|
|Feeding expecting and lactating mothers||Life skills programme|
|Feeding programmes in special schools||Community health camps|
|Subsidised lunch for the economically backward||Scholarship programmes|
|Feeding runaway children||Health check-up camps|
|Feeding programmes in old-age homes|
|Feeding the homeless|
In general, surveys show that since the implementation of Mid-day Meal Programme by the Government and various NGOs, there has been an upward surge in school enrolment and attendance of the children. Studies also indicate that this programme has been able to reduce drop-out rate.
The impact of the mid-day meal has been witnessed in all the serving locations of Akshaya Patra. There have been few studies conducted to evaluate the impact of the programme implementation by the Foundation. The studies are as follows: AC Nielsen Impact Study and Harvard Case Study. Some of the Government Studies are:
- Governance Knowledge Centre
- Ministry of Human Resource Development
- Situation Analysis of Mid-Day Meal programme in Rajasthan
- Report on Akshara Dasoha Scheme of Karnataka
Below is the summary of findings of the impact studies:
- Increased enrolment – The mid-day meal acts as a great incentive for children to come to school. As more often than not, this meal becomes the child’s only meal for the day, it also acts parents to send their children to school.
- Increased attendance – Children look forward to coming to school every day because of the mid-day meal. As the Akshaya Patra meal caters to the regional palate it further suits the taste buds of the children and draws them to attend school.
- Increased concentration – A stomach full of freshly cooked nutritious and healthy mid-day meal keeps classroom hunger at bay and increases the child's concentration in class.
- Improved socialisation – As the meal served by Akshaya Patra can be consumed universally by children of all caste and community it has fostered the habit of eating together. This intermingling has increased the unity among children of various religions and castes. It has also helped in removing divisional hierarchy in terms of social standing thereby enhancing a sense of equality among all children.
- Addressed malnutrition – Through the mid-day meal Akshaya Patra is striving to meet the nutritional requirements of children such as energy, carbohydrates, proteins and fat for school children.
- Empowered women – Women have been employed by the Foundation in different capacities in operations and other functional areas. Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) have also been appointed in De-centralised kitchen set-up for the cooking and managing the processes involved in mid-day meal preparation under the guidance of Akshaya Patra’s standard operating process. This opportunity has doubly benefited them by boosting their self-esteem and improving their social standing.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation feeds 1.4 million children every day across India. It is operational across 22 locations in 10 states of India and follows the Centralised Kitchen format in 22 locations and De-centralised Kitchen format in two locations. Below is the list of state-wise presence of Akshaya Patra:
|State / Location||Type of Kitchen||Year of establishment||Number of Children||Number of Schools|
|Vishakhapatnam||Centralised Kitchen||October 2008||5,249||7|
|Guwahati||Centralised Kitchen||February 2010||53,649||592|
|Bhilai||Centralised Kitchen||January 2009||23,674||160|
|Gandhinagar||Centralised Kitchen||June 2007||1,21,508||666|
|Vadodara||Centralised Kitchen||November 2009||1,13,593||616|
|Surat||Centralised Kitchen||June 2012||1,65,057 ||371|
|Bangalore- HK Hill||Centralised Kitchen||June 2000||85,204||487|
|Bellary||Centralised Kitchen||July 2006||1,15,945||575|
|Hubli||Centralised Kitchen||July 2004||1,26,693||789|
|Mangalore||Centralised Kitchen||December 2004||22,679||147|
|Mysore||Centralised Kitchen||August 2004||13,835||63|
|Bangalore-Vasanthapura||Centralised Kitchen||July 2007||99,326||568|
|Cuttack||Centralised Kitchen||July 2014||4,000||28|
|Puri||Centralised Kitchen||June 2006||55,835||648|
|Nayagarh||Decentralised Kitchen||March 2007||24,580||352|
|Rourkela||Centralised Kitchen||November 2013||40,827||433|
|Jaipur||Centralised Kitchen||February 2004||92,763||1,081|
|Nathdwara||Centralised Kitchen||June 2006||25,274||435|
|Baran||Decentralised Kitchen||April 2005||11,456||166|
|Jodhpur||Centralised Kitchen||August 2013||6,417||148|
|Vrindavan||Centralised Kitchen||August 2004||1,39,262||1,874|
|Chennai||Centralised Kitchen||July 2011||718||1|
|Hyderabad||Centralised Kitchen||October 2008||54849||454|
The Akshaya Patra Foundation aims to counter classroom hunger  and aid in education of children. A donation of Rs. 750 can serve a wholesome mid-day meal to one child for one whole academic year. The Foundation also has different modes of sponsorship that can be chosen by any donor to help this charitable cause. The sponsor can choose from the below list of options:
- Online/Offline donation
- Sponsor a meal delivery vehicle
- Sponsor a school for a year
- Sponsor kitchen equipment
- Engage his/her organisation as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative
The Foundation is eligible to provide income tax benefits to its donors under section 35AC of the Income Tax Act of the Government of India. Any donation of above Rs. 500 towards the NGO is eligible for 100% tax exemption  under this Act.
In keeping with the principle of transparency, the Foundation complies with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and with the Indian Accounting Standards issued by the Institute of Chartered accountants of India (ICAI) for reporting its financials year-on-year. Akshaya Patra publishes its Annual Report with audited financial reports and makes it available for all its stakeholders, at the end of every financial year.
As a standard process of audit systems to ensure effectiveness of the internal controls, Akshaya Patra has appointed Chartered Accountant firms of repute, as Branch Auditors. The Branch Auditors submit the audited reports of their respective branches to the Management on a periodical basis. These reports are then reviewed by the Audit Committee through the Audit Department of the Foundation.
On an average, 82% of the total cost is used towards meeting the programme cost and 14% is utilised as programme management cost. 4% of the total cost is steered towards meeting fundraising and communication costs. As of March 2013, around 51% of funding (amounting to Rs. 40,668 lakhs) has been accounted for by Central and State Government grants and subsidies, allowing the Foundation to raise the remaining 49%.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has received helping aid and goodwill support from many noteworthy organisations. Below is a list of few of the organisations; however this list is not exhaustive.
- CISCO 
- ABB Limited 
- Genpact India
- Jindal Aluminium
- Maple Exports Pvt. Ltd.
- Jamsetji Tata Trust 
- HDFC Bank Ltd 
- Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL)
- Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) 
- Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) 
- Hans Foundation 
- Give India
- Kennametal Foundation 
- Michael and Susan Dell Foundation 
Awards and Recognitions
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been recipient of quite a few significant national and international awards.
- Gold Shield Award by Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) for five consecutive financial years for Excellence in Financial Reporting: Annual Report 2008-09; 2009–10; 2010–11; 2011–12; 2012-13 
- Gold Award for Annual Report 2011-12 by SAFA (South Asian Federation of Accountants) 
- CII National Award for Food Safety 2013 
- Gold Award at League of American Communications Professionals LACP 2012/13 Vision Awards 
- Ranked 34th among Top 100 Annual Reports Worldwide at League of American Communications Professionals LACP 2012/13 Vision Awards 
- Gold Award at Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) Corporate Collateral Awards 2014
- Honorary Award on Social Responsibility by LASSIB Society
- Silver Award at Summit International Creative Award 2013 for Annual Report 2011-12
- Akshaya Patra has been nominated to be the Member of National Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (NSMC) for Mid-Day Meal Programme 
- Akshaya Patra is the first NGO to have got enlisted in the ICAI Hall of Fame and it is the third entry across all industries 
- The Foundation is ranked 23rd among Top 100 NGOs by The Global Journal in its 2013 edition 
- It is featured as one of the 8 game changers in the inaugural issue of Innowin- India’s first magazine dedicated to innovation
- Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records recognises Akshaya Patra as running 'The world's largest school meal programme’ 
- A documentary on Akshaya Patra was featured on National Television-Doordarshan
Below is a graphical representation of cumulative number of meals served in the past years:
- Mid Day Meal Scheme
- No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger
- in June 2000 by feeding 1,500 children in 5 Government schools in Bangalore
- Public Private Parternship
- Eliminating classroom hunger
- To reach out to 5 million children by 2020
- Akshaya Patra is implementation of the mid-day meal programme
- feeds 1.4 million children every day across India
- 1.65 lakh children served hot midday meal in Surat
- 100 % tax exemption
- ABB Limited
- Jamsetji Tata Trust
- Hans Foundation
- Kennametal Foundation - Pgno:14
- Michael and Susan Dell Foundation
- Akshaya Patra gets Gold Shield and Hall of Fame by ICAI for the year 2012-13
- Gold Award for Annual Report 2011-12 by SAFA
- CII National Award for Food Safety 2013
- Gold Award at LACP 2012/13 Vision Awards
- Ranked 34th among Top 100 Annual Reports Worldwide at LACP 2012/13 Vision Awards
- Akshaya Patra nominated NSMC FOR Mid-Day Meal Programme
- Akshaya Patra is the first NGO to have got enlisted in the ICAI Hall of Fame and it is the third entry across all industries
- The Foundation is ranked 23rd among Top 100 NGOs by The Global Journal in its 2013 edition
- Limca Book of Records
- world's largest school meal programme
- The Akshaya Patra Foundation - Official Website