It is only by doing service to others we can find the relevance of our existence. There are children in government schools who cannot pursue education for lack of food. The children crave to remain in classrooms, play with friends, remain independent and look after their family when they grow up. But when circumstances are not favourable they tend to be drop-outs.
The literacy rate in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are lower than all India average of 69 percent. In Andhra Pradesh, the percentage of dropouts are 58.9 while 67.2 in Telangana. Most of them are from families who are engaged in farming, whose parents are daily wage labourers. During the summers, when the agricultural yield is poor, most of the parents even discontinue their children’s education.
As a successful NGO in Telangana, Akshaya Patra serves free mid-day meals to these children with support from the government. Since 2008, the non-profit organisation has been serving free mid-day meals to 54,849 children in 454 government schools. The organisation has its largest mechanised centralised kitchen in Hyderabad with state-of-the-art cooking equipment's that are capable of cooking huge quantities of food. A variety of rice items as biriyani, puliyogare, bisibele bath, peanut rice, jeera rice, tomato rice and khichadi are served. Even savouries and fruits are also served.
Let us hear what the beneficiaries have to say of the mid-day meal in Telangana.
Monica Devi, a 15-year old girl studying in Zilla Parishad High School, who belongs to a broken family says, "I am very fond of the meal provided by Akshaya Patra and potato-brinjal curry is my all-time favourite." "Just before lunch, my friends and I can’t stop thinking about the meal," she adds.
Read more about Monica at: This Akshaya Patra Beneficiary is a True Victor
Venu, a 5th standard student whose parents are daily wage earners says, "My favourite is the aloo biryani served on every Thursday." “My friends and I make sure we don’t miss school on Thursday because of the biryani,” adds Venu.
Read more about Venu at: Exploring more with a language
Soujanya, an 8th standard beneficiary is a class topper whose parents are daily-wage labourers. She says, “I’m lucky to have the Akshaya Patra meals. It is nutritious and tasty. It helps me concentrate in class” She further adds, "I am fond of the fruits and loves the biryani served."
Read more about Soujanya at: Perfect with Numbers
Teachers opine that despite the sporadic dropout rate, the enrolment rate has increased by 2%. Most of the students are regular as they are served free nutritious mid-day meals. Thus the non-profit organisation not only serves food but also supports education.
For many children in government schools, the mid-day meal is an important aspect of their daily lives. Let us serve unlimited food for education. It takes Rs. 750 to feed a child for a year! Donations of Rs. 500 or above are considered as tax deductible donations. (Every donation of Rs. 500 or above to Akshaya Patra is eligible for 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax under section 35 AC or 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax .