Akshaya Patra first began providing the mid day meal programme in Odisha in June 2006. The ngo in Orissa opened its centralised kitchen at Puri which today feeds over 55,000 children across nearly 650 Government schools every day. The Foundation, which runs the world’s largest school feeding programme, currently feeds over 1.4 million children across 10,770 Government schools in India every day. The organisation undertakes this mammoth task through its 24 kitchen units spread out over 10 states in the country. With the vision that ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’ Akshaya Patra is committed to ending child hunger in India. The Foundation, being a not-for-profit organisation, relies on the donations of the Government of India, corporates and well-wishers to provide this nutritious food to the children. In order to encourage more contributions the Government of India permits tax benefits of donations to be given. For those who contribute over Rs.500 they can avail of 100 per cent tax exemption.
The mid day meal programme in Odisha is also served through the other kitchens at Nayagarh, Rourkela and Cuttack. Overall this ngo in Orissa provides daily food for over 125,000 children across 1,461 Government schools in the state. Out of the four kitchens in the state, three follow the centralised kitchen format while Nayagarh follows the decentralised kitchen format. The centralised kitchens are semi mechanised units fitted with cutting edge cooking technology that allows for huge amounts of food to be cooked in a very short amount of time. The kitchens are fitted with huge cauldrons to cook rice and dal, as well as a roti making machine that is capable of producing up to 60,000 rotis in an hour. To cater to the local palate the food cooked as part of the menu includes tasty dishes like rice, roti (Indian flatbread), sambar (vegetable stew), dal (dried pulses curry) and tasty vegetable dishes. The decentralised kitchen is set up in locations where road transport and infrastructural facilities are poor. Here Akshaya Patra employs women from local self-help groups who undertake the cooking under the guidance of Akshaya Patra personnel. The Foundation aims to provide a win-win situation for both the beneficiaries and the donors. Therefore the organisation ensures that the well-wishers enjoy the tax benefits of donations for every contribution above Rs.500.
The mid day meal programme in Odisha has transformed the lives of over 50,000 children and counting. Through this nutritious meal provided by the ngo in Orissa, children have an incentive to attend school, and can now choose to get educated. Previously children were often forced to drop out of school in order to help their families earn enough for a daily meal. Through this scheme, the children are now given an opportunity to get better health and learning at the same time. In addition to this advantage are the tax benefits of donations that contributors enjoy.
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