The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Bangalore, India, has been implementing a very important feeding program for years, offering meals to 1.8 million children from over 19,000 schools in 12 states and two territories of the Union.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought job losses, famine, and school closures, the foundation decided to change direction and use its resources to help meet these challenges in the country.
“We quickly changed our strategy from 'school food' to 'patient food',” says Shridhar Venkat, CEO of the Akshaya Patra Foundation.
“The idea was to help those in need with three different meals: distributing four meals a day to Covid patients, migrant workers and the unemployed, distributing a package of materials for 42 meals consisting of five kilos of rice, one kilo of tural dal , half a liter of cooking oil, spices, samara and rasam powder and some vegetables, and finally distribution of a “happiness package” for children with cookies, ragi flour, dental kits, toiletries for girls and so on.
In addition, Akshaya Patra recently opened a Covid Relief Feeding Center at KR Market in Bangalore, offering 1,000 free cooked meals daily to front-line staff, industrial workers and the poor. The foundation even intends to open another 3-4 similar feeding centers in other parts of the city.
It is worth noting that since the pandemic hit India, the Akshaya Patra Foundation has delivered over 124 million meals. Specifically, 60.7 million cooked meals, over 1 million packages with basic shopping and food and 1.06 million “Happiness Packages” with dry diets (equivalent to over 20 million meal portions), personal hygiene products and educational materials. Meals are prepared in the 57 kitchens of Akshaya Patra in 13 states. Kitchens have the capacity to produce 2.2 million cooked meals in a single shift.
Akshaya Patra has partnered with several government agencies to feed Covid patients at state hospitals and distribute groceries and food through government channels. Venkat says the foundation's fundraising events have received tremendous support from individual and corporate donors. More than 100,000 donors showed up to support the initiative through the Akshaya Patra online platform.
Due to the growing needs, the foundation seeks to further expand its operations in the near future, using its team of 7,000 employees to create community kitchens and, if possible, increase meal production.