Akshaya Patra has partnered with the Government of India to implement Mid-Day Meal Scheme, world’s largest school lunch programme.
To improve the education scenario in the country, the government has made much efforts including the Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009 for free and compulsory education to children till 14 years, provisions for free text books and uniforms, and also free bi-cycles to girl students and students from SC and ST communities. But the most significant impact has been had by the Government’s Mid Day Meal Scheme, which has brought direct outcomes on enhanced school attendance and enrollment, and in improving the nutrition status of children. India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme today covers 110 million (11 crore) children in 12,00,000 schools across the country, making it the world’s largest school lunch programme. This is implemented by the Government in partnership with voluntary organisations to help mobilize community support, as also promote public-private partnership (PPP) in the scheme.
Within the PPP model of implementation of the MDMS, the largest partner of the Government is the Akshaya Patra Foundation, a not-for-profit trust of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Bangalore. Akshaya Patra started in the year 2000, and today reaches to over 8600 schools in 8 states across India. It serves cooked lunches from 19 kitchens to 1.3 million children daily, forming the largest NGO-run mid-day meal programme in the world. Wherever located, Akshaya Patra kitchens have enhanced the effectiveness of the Mid-day Meal Scheme in the local schools, and have brought benefits in bettering enrolments and the school attendance of children.This case study looks at the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme in the Nathwara tehsil of Rajsamand district in Rajasthan. The kitchen was inaugurated in July 2011, and today serves 32,000 children in 443 schools daily across the tehsil. Benefits of the programme include promotion of social cohesion through inter-dining in the classroom where children across castes and communities sit together and eat. The summary impact of a daily assured meal under the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal programme is seen in the attitudes of children, who look forward to school, and their parents, who no longer want their children to drop out.
This case study was published in March 2012.