IndiaWest: Milpitas, Calif. — Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO serving daily midday meals to children in India, raised over $247,000 at their annual Food for Education Benefit Gala on Dec. 6 at the India Community Center.
A crowd of more than 250 philanthropists, business, and government leaders was welcomed by the foundation.
Barbara Kinney, award-winning photojournalist and White House photographer to President Bill Clinton, was the evening’s keynote speaker. She spoke about her travels and showed pictures of the Bill Clinton Foundation’s trip to Akshaya Patra schools and kitchens last July in Jaipur and Lucknow.
“Visiting the kitchens was a very eye-opening experience,” Kinney told India-West. “I loved seeing the smiling kids and was amazed at how much of an impact a meal can make in helping kids pursue their dreams.”
Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Indian American philanthropist, entrepreneur, and chairman of Akshaya Patra USA, noted the organization’s goals to feed five million children daily by 2020 and welcomed all event attendees.
The event also featured Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka as the guest of honor, who spoke about the importance of meeting the primal need for food to prepare for the world of tomorrow. Infosys has been an integral part of the Akshaya Patra foundation since its inception and donated 147 crore rupees last year to the cause.
The CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, Emily Rosenbaum, told personal anecdotes about her travels to India, and talked about Akshaya Patra’s impact on eradicating poverty and malnourishment in ten states, 24 kitchens, and 10,601 schools throughout India.
While Dance Dil Se gave a dance performance, high school students Sachin Sadana and Ishika Goel spoke about the new Akshaya Patra Youth Ambassador program for high school students who have committed to raising awareness and funds for the cause. Actress Richa Shukla hosted the event.
According to a spokesperson, the gala raised $247,396 — enough funds to feed nearly 17,000 children across India for an entire school year. With just $15, Akshaya Patra feeds a child for an entire academic year.
Rosenbaum said, “The compassion of the Bay Area community and synergy with feeding 1.4 million children at over 10,600 government schools is self-evident. We thank each and every guest and supporter.”
Akshaya Patra has also implemented a new program for hosts to throw parties that feed children through Akshaya Patra called “Care to Celebrate.”