Mid-Day Meal Scheme is an initiative of Government of India to tackle childhood hunger. Under this Scheme, free lunch is provided to children of Government schools. The Akshaya Patra Foundation under the aegis of the Central and State Government runs its mid-day meal programme in 19 locations across 9 states of India. Currently the Foundation is serving 1.3 million children across India and it aims to feed 5 million children by 2020.
The mid-day meal programme has many positive impacts. Studies show that this programme has increased school enrolment rate, countered classroom hunger paving way for better concentration and learning, and decreased drop-out rate. Mid-day meal has also helped in bringing the drop-outs back to school. Here are the anecdotes of three children that testify the potential of mid-day meal in bringing drop-outs back to classroom. Their teacher says, “Apart from our efforts to bring them back to school, the mid-day meal provided by Akshaya Patra has played a vital role in bringing these children back to school. When parents send their children to school they have one hungry stomach less to feed. Without the mid-day meal programme, these children could not have realized their potential.”
Rajeshwari’s comes from a humble background. Her father owns a meat stall and mother runs a small dosa stall to earn for the family. She introduces herself as Raji. Raji dropped out of school because she had to take care of her younger siblings. She was then studying in Grade 1. With innocence she says “I used to tender change at the cash counter.” Just a few months ago Raji got back to regular schooling and now she is a Grade 4 student.
Ashok and Uday have similar stories too. At an age when they both needed parental care and affection, they had to play the caretakers role. Ashok went to his sister’s house to take care of his niece. Uday, on the other hand lost his mother at an early age and hence was forced to quit schooling and play the role of a care taker. But the relief lies in the fact that today both of then are back to school. Being a good athlete Ashok has brought many laurels for the school and Uday is brilliant in his academics and is a top scorer in his class.
Parents of these children and many such children are relieved that their children will at least get one wholesome meal in the school. Stories like these are the factors that motivate Akshaya Patra to tirelessly increase their reach out to more locations to feed the children in India. Help Akshaya Patra spread its mid-day meal programme to reach out to more and more children. Donate towards a noble cause. Your donation will be a gift to many children, for they will get back their school life.
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