Music for hunger
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, headquartered in Bangalore runs a school meal programme, feeding 1.3 million children every school working day in 8 states of India in a public-private partnership with the Central and State Governments. The programme is in its 12th year of operations and has scaled up from a modest number of 1500 children in the year 2000 to the current reach of 1.3 million children.
This scaling up has required the setting up of large centralized kitchens, some of which cater to around 200000 children on any given day. Akshaya Patra has 16 such kitchens, aside of over 400 decentralized kitchens which are set up in the premises of the school itself. Decentralized kitchens are generally run in remote areas where road connectivity is poor and the schools are very far from the centralized kitchens.
Akshaya Patra is set to reach 5 million children by the year 2020. While the government funds 60 per cent of the meal cost, the deficit 40 per cent of the meal cost and the cost of setting up infrastructure has to be entirely raised by Akshaya Patra. It is the help of donors – corporate, individual and trusts and foundations, which have helped Akshaya Patra in this area. However, in its quest to reach 5 million, Akshaya Patra has to do a lot more and raise a lot more awareness on the issue of hunger, which is the nucleus of the programme, as well as its own work. Increased awareness as is obvious will make it easier to scale up the programme.