Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO -run mid-day meal program, today started its centralized kitchen in Nathdwara. 75,000 students studying in government schools will be served mid-day meals from this kitchen. Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways C.P. Joshi declared open the 32,000 square feet hi- tech kitchen.
Speaking at the inaugural function, Union Minister C.P. Joshi said the seeds of Akshaya Patra were sown 11 years back and now it has grown as a tree. Commenting on the need to eradicate hunger and promote education in our country the minister said, unless in our country children are educated and healthy, our country cannot progress in the right direction. He further added that to fulfill the requirement of 50 crore skilled workforce younger generation has to come forward.
During the occasion Union minister also expressed interest that along with the mid-day meals the children should also be given coaching in improving the English Language. Trustees of Akshaya Patra who were present during that occasion readily agreed for giving the proposal a new shape.
Responding to the minister’s request, Akshaya Patra, Vice Chairman, Chanchala Pathi Dasa said soon steps will be taken to implement the life skills programme in schools that will help to improve English education.
He recalled, as a pilot programme in the year 2006 Akshaya Patra started in Nathdwara by establishing decentralized kitchen model to feed 226 schools in the Nathdwara cluster and was feeding 1500 students. He said with the opening of the new kitchen, in the first phase all 443schools covering 32,000 students will be covered under the mid-day meal programme. In the second phase the programme will be extended to Nathdwara by feeding 75,000 more children. With such an initiative Dasa said this programme has also created employment opportunities for 400 people.
Chanchalapathi Dasa during his speech said Akshaya Patra started its operation in the year 2000 by feeding 5 schools in Bangalore and it is now covering 9 states feeding 13 lakh children. He also said Akshaya Patra is currently providing employment opportunity to 4600 people across the country and its mission is to feed 5 million children by 2020. Talking about the blue bus, Dasa said currently Akshaya Patra is using 450 Blue buses to carry mid-day meals. In the coming days to attain the mission we expect to further increase the number of blue buses. Thanking the central and the state government on whose partnership the mid-day meal programme is implemented, Chanchala Pathi Dasa said all this was possible because of the unstinting support of all our stakeholders.
Akshaya Patra trustee Ramadas Kamath during the inaugural speech congratulated all the children on the occasion of children’s day. He said Akshaya Patra has specifically chosen the occasion of children’s day to inaugurate the event so that it reaches the maximum number of students.
Mohan Das Pai, Trustee, Akshaya Patra Foundation said he hope the meals that Akshaya Patra serve make the children more strong and intelligent.
The event also witnessed the participation of Rishikesh Gujjar who is the teacher of higher secondary school, Jagola, Nathdwara and primary school, Kotariya who spoke on the kindness gesture of organizations such as Akshaya Patra.
The Akshaya Patra unit president Jaganmohan Dasa and the principal donor for Nathdwara project Shree Lalit K Tulsiyan were also present during the occasion.
Akshaya Patra’s centralized kitchen at Nathdwara houses a special chapatti making machine capable of churning out 40,000 rotis per hour. The facility also cooks Dhal and rice in separate steel cauldrons; the cooked meals reach the children in piping hot condition as they are transported in stainless steel vessels with air tight lids. The hi-tech kitchen which is built at a cost of 5.5 crores was sponsored by Lalit K Tulsiyan and Radha Devi Joshi foundation.