By making online donations to the Akshaya Patra NGO in Cuttack, it is possible to support the cause of fighting child hunger in India. That is what the Foundation is trying to do by serving the school lunch programme to over 1.4 million children across 10 states of India every day. Started in the year 2000 feeding just 1,500 children across 5 Government schools in Bengaluru, today the Foundation has become the largest NGO in Asia and the world’s largest school feeding programme working out of 24 kitchen units, and reaching 10,770 Government and Government aided schools in India. The mid day meal in Odisha started being served in the year 2006 when the centralised kitchen at Puri was set up. After Puri, in 2007 the Nayagarh kitchen was constructed, then the Rourkela kitchen in 2013 and most recently the Cuttack kitchen in 2014.
Today the NGO in Cuttack feeds over 125,000 children across nearly 1,500 schools in the state. In order to reach out with the mid day meal in Odisha for many more underserved children, online donations are a very important part of Akshaya Patra’s operations model. Being a not-for-profit organisation, the Foundation is dependent on the generosity of others to scale and achieve sustainability in its programme. Through a Public-Private Partnership model with the Government of India, the Foundation has achieved a lot of stability over the years. In addition, the generosity of corporates through their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes as well as from individuals has also gone a long way in supporting Akshaya Patra’s school feeding programme.
The NGO in Cuttack was the Foundation’s 23rd kitchen and was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of the State, Naveen Patnaik. The kitchen was sponsored by the primary donor the Kusuma Trust (UK) as well as others. In order to cook the mid day meal in Odisha in such huge quantities on every working day, the kitchens need to be very technologically advanced. To this end three of the kitchens in the state are centralised kitchens. These are equipped with state-of-the-art cooking machinery that enables the staff to cook huge quantities in a very short amount of time. Equipped with huge cauldrons to cook rice, dal and other curries, and roti making machines to churn out rotis (Indian flatbread) in a short amount of time, these kitchens are very impressive indeed. These kitchens also curtail human contact with the food and therefore ensure that food safety, quality and hygiene standards are adhered to. However, these kitchens are very expensive to set up. Online donations towards constructing kitchens go a long way to easing the burden for the organisation. In addition to this the Foundation also runs one decentralised kitchen in the state at Nayagarh where road connectivity and infrastructure is bad. Through this the Foundation ensures that even children in remote areas can access daily food.