To improve primary education and counter classroom hunger the Government of India has developed two of the most significant programmes-
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
- Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)
Through the flagship programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Government of India aims to achieve Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, by making available free and compulsory education to the children aged between 6–14 years.
However, the socio-economic scenario of India did require an incentive to further the SSA initiative. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme came by as an answer. The MDMS focuses on providing free school lunch at all Government schools in order to enhance enrolment, retention and attendance among children and also simultaneously to improve their nutritional levels. It was indeed a noteworthy initiative as the impact of this Scheme was progressively seen across the country. Witnessing the impact, the education sector received a 17% increase in budget allocation for the programme. A total of around 11 crore children across 12 lakh schools are benefitting from the MDMS programme.
Akshaya Patra implements the Mid- Day Meal programme in 23 locations of 10 states of India. Each day the Foundation feeds 1.4 million children covering more than 10,000 Government schools. The Foundation follows both centralised and decentralised kitchen formats to implement the programme . The NP-NSPE guidelines cite the Foundation’s centralised kitchen format as a model infrastructure for large scale production of mid-day meals. Akshaya Patra also serves as a Member of the National Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (NSMC) for the Mid-Day Meal Programme.
The Akshaya Patra Kitchen Infrastructure will give an overview of its compliance to Food Safety and Quality Standards while preparing the meals. 12 centralised kitchens of the Foundation are ISO 22000:2005 certified and the remaining are in the process of getting certification.Working in partnership with the Central Government and various State Governments, along with the support of numerous philanthropists Akshaya Patra strives to feed 5 million children by 2020.
As an extension of its vegetarian philosophy, Akshaya Patra does not provide eggs in its MDMS programmes but by incorporating alternatives such as milk & bananas – It provides meals that are prepared scientifically and with required nutritional value. The food distributed by Akshaya Patra is perceived to be “hygienic, nutritious and delicious”.
Source : WikiPedia