With mid-day meal program by the government already well-established , the Foundation took it a notch higher by introducing the breakfast provision
By Anushree Jonko and Anna Priyadarshini
Chennai: “No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger”, says Balaji G.R., Head of Operations, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, of Akshay Patra Foundation (APF). This initiative with Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) guarantees lesser drop-outs of children from school.
Currently serving 1.76 million children in 15,668 schools in 13 states across India, and planning of expansion to Puducherry, the Foundation ensures nutrition balance in kids, which according to them is “highly beneficial and mandatory”. With this vision they plan to feed 5 million children by 2025.
With only 20 workers, and bearing a meager cost of approximately Rs. 10 per breakfast meal, they serve 16 corporation schools in Chennai, in Zone 13, Adyar and Velachery.
With absolute transparency in the feedback system, the Foundation interacts with the school officials via a WhatsApp group, through which they resolve issues.
“We make sure that the breakfast reaches the children by 7:40 am before the morning assembly”, says Balaji who was previously working for the Foundation in Bengaluru, where the initiative was first launched. The menu is decided by Akshaya Patra after the corporation instructs on the required grains and vegetables to be added. The breakfast menu consists of easily digestible food items like idli sambar, pongal sambar, upma sambar, daliya khichdi, chips and cornflakes.
Sunita Kapila, a student of class V, who used to have only bread and tea for breakfast, says enthusiastically, “The food is very tasty and is better than home.”
As a working mother, Mrs. Jescinda, whose daughter studies at a corporation school in Tharamani, does not have to prepare breakfasts on busy mornings anymore.
Maria Shanti, the Headmistress of Greater Chennai Primary School, Thiruvanmiyur, says, “Previously, the students came late but now they come on time. There have been cases where some of them have even fainted during the morning assembly because of not having breakfast, but since June, there has been great response from the parents and students.”
Although the foundation feeds nearly 5000 children solely in Chennai, there is zero wastage, implying the success of the scheme at a larger level.