The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a pioneer in providing mid-day meals to school children, inaugurated its new centralised kitchen in Panvel, Maharashtra. The new unit is Akshaya Patra’s 68th kitchen in the country and 4th in Maharashtra. It will enable the organisation to implement the government’s flagship school feeding programme, PM POSHAN, and serve 10,000 children in 70 schools in an effort to address classroom hunger and promote education.
Dignitaries serving meals at the newly inaugurated kitchen in Panvel
The chief guest for the inauguration ceremony was Shri Deepak Vasant Kesarkar, Cabinet Minister for School Education and Marathi Language, Government of Maharashtra. The event was also graced by the presence of Shri. Ganesh Deshmukh – Commissioner, Panvel Municipal Corporation; Shri. Pankaj Dahane – DCP, Navi Mumbai Police; Shri. Bharat Rathod – Additional Commissioner Panvel Municipal Corporation; Smt. Suvarna Dakhane – Assistant Commissioner, Panvel Municipal Corporation; Shri. Paresh Thakur, Ex-Sabhapati at Panvel Municipal Corporation; Smt. Kirti Mahajan – Administrative Officer, Panvel Municipal Corporation and Shri. Sunil Bhople – Deputy Education Officer. On behalf of Akshaya Patra, Shri Amitasana Dasa, President – The Akshaya Patra Foundation Maharashtra and Mr. Shridhar Venkat, CEO, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, were present at the event.
The event marked a momentous occasion in the Foundation’s journey towards fighting classroom hunger and promoting education through nutritious meals. Akshaya Patra’s patrons, Ms. Vandana and Mr. Ravi Tilak, the Sarva Mangal Trust, and the Saxena Family Foundation have played a crucial role in turning this dream into reality
“It is a pleasure to inaugurate the 68th kitchen of the Akshaya Patra Foundation. The school mid-day meal is extremely important for students’ development. The Prime Minister’s PM Poshan scheme is truly a great initiative, and institutions such as The Akshaya Patra Foundation which are involved in this noble cause should be encouraged. It is the duty of the government to support such activities, and I assure you that the government of Maharashtra will always stand by you,” said Shri Deepak Vasant Kesarkar, Cabinet Minister for School Education and Marathi Language, Government of Maharashtra.
Speaking on the occasion,Shri Amitasana Dasasaid, “We are proud to inaugurate our new kitchen in Panvel today. It would not have been possible without the support of our anchor patrons, Ms. Vandana and Mr. Ravi Tilak from the USA, Sarva Mangal Trust, and the Saxena Family Foundation. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for their unwavering support. We are also immensely grateful to the Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra for providing us with this opportunity to nourish the bodies and minds of the future of our country. Akshaya Patra kitchens are not just buildings where meals are cooked. These kitchens are a beacon of hope and a testament to our vision: ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’.”
The newly inaugurated kitchen has the capacity to cook approximately 20,000 nutritious meals every day. Initially, it will serve over 10,000 hot, nutritious mid-day meals to children across 70 local Municipal and Zilla Panchayat schools and eventually scale up to serve more children. The menu, meticulously crafted to combine nutrition and variety, caters to the local palate with over 12 diverse recipes like mixed dal, pulao, chole, jeera rice, sambar, khichdi, and sweets, along with bananas as mandated by the Government of Maharashtra.
As a norm, Akshaya Patra kitchens emphasize sustainability, with over 70% of its power needs met through solar energy. This commitment extends to water conservation through integrated rainwater harvesting systems. The project also contributes to the local economy by providing employment opportunities to 50 locals directly and 100 women indirectly.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Sridhar Venkat, Chief Executive Officer of The Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “It is with immense gratitude and pride that I stand before you today to celebrate the inauguration of The Akshaya Patra Foundations newest centralized kitchen in Panvel, Maharashtra. This remarkable facility, our 68th kitchen nationwide and 4th in Maharashtra, marks a significant milestone in our journey towards eradicating classroom hunger and promoting education. I extend my heartfelt thanks to Shri Deepak Vasant Kesarkar and all the dignitaries for their invaluable support and presence today. A special acknowledgement goes to our patrons, Ms. Vandana and Mr. Ravi Tilak, the Sarva Mangal Trust, and the Saxena Family Foundation. As we embark on this new chapter, our Panvel kitchen is not just a building; it is a beacon of hope and health for thousands of children.”
In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint further, the Foundation will add electric vehicles (EVs) to its fleet of distribution vehicles. By the end of January 2024, all the delivery vehicles in Panvel, Mumbai, will be EVs, each serving over 1,800 children.
The Panvel kitchen is a testament to quality and safety, boasting ISO certification for Food Safety Standards, a 5-star rating by FSSAI, and recognition as an Eat Right campus by FSSAI.
This ambitious project is a reflection of The Akshaya Patra Foundations enduring commitment to nurturing young minds. It symbolizes Akshaya Patra’s collective effort in fostering community participation, promoting healthy eating habits, and advancing sustainable practices in our journey towards a brighter, more nourishing future.
About The Akshaya Patra Foundation
Akshaya Patra is a not-for-profit implementing partner for the Government of Indias flagship PM POSHAN Abhiyan. Its programme is based on the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model in collaboration with various governments, corporates, philanthropic donors, and well-wishers. Akshaya Patra strives to ensure childrens access to nutrition by providing them hot, hygienic, and safe mid-day meals in government and aided schools every day. The programme positively impacts children’s education by improving their enrolment, attendance, retention, and concentration.
The Foundation feeds over 2 million children in 22,367 schools through its 67 kitchens across 15 states and 2 UTs of India, making it the worlds largest NGO-run school feeding programme.
For more detailswww.akshayapatra.org.
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