It’s been 15 years that Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF), headquartered in Bengaluru, has been serving afternoon meals to government school children, and in a few weeks, it will touch the glorious mark of its two billionth meal.
APF, the world’s largest school lunch programme, was founded by IITian Madhu Pandit Dasa, who was conferred with the prestigious honour of Padma Shri last month.
“I still remember the day when I took the first meal to a government school. The children loved it. I did not believe that we would go with the food the next day. But for 15 years now, we have been able to sustain,” Dasa told TOI. Dasa wants to ensure that no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger; because of his vision, this scheme has won many accolades for its transparency, hygiene and tech savvy delivery of cooked meals.
“Growth has not been a challenge but sustainably growing is a challenge. Every time we start a kitchen, children come with a hope that they will get a good meal every day. Ensuring food safety especially at the school level which is the last mile and on a daily basis is a challenge. The road ahead is to implement innovative ideas in operations, fundraising and sourcing. We also would like to freely share our learnings with any organigation or an individual who wants to work on alleviating hunger amongst children,” said APF CEO Shridhar Venkat.
APF trustee T V Mohandas Pai told TOI: “I think the reason for our success has been how different competencies which are mutually inclusive and collectively exclusive have come together to fight hunger among children.”