Vandana Tilak is tackling child hunger in India

Vandana Tilak

Around the world, nearly one in two people live in poverty. Furthermore, 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, according to the Food Aid Foundation.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest secular school lunch program, is tackling this massive problem. It serves 1.8 million nutritious meals every school day to children ages 6 to 14 years old. Some 51 kitchens in India make 10,000 to 250,000 meals in six hours, and more than 800 trucks transport the meals to schools six days a week. It works across 661 locations in India, which includes Govandi in Mumbai, Mokhada in Palghar, Dharni in Amravati, Baran in Rajasthan, Burhanpur and Dhar in Madhya Pradesh.

The non-profit organization aims to eliminate classroom hunger, increase school attendance, enrollment and retention, improve socialization and address malnutrition. It works in partnership with the Central Government and various state governments, which provide grain and cash subsidies of about 60 percent of their total cost. The remaining 40 percent is covered by support received from corporate, foundation and individual donors.

“In India, 120 million children in government schools come from marginalized families and live on $1.20 a day,” said Vandana Tilak, CEO of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. “Some 80 percent of children that we feed have not had a meal since the day before and is their only meal of the day, so we make sure it has the complete nutrition that’s required for a growing child.”

The Akshaya Patra Foundation also provides a dessert one day a week, which remains a surprise for the students. “We want the students to have the luxury of sweets, which they never would have gotten from the type of families they come from,” Tilak said.

There’s a big educational link to these meals. The students come to school rather than working to earn money for their families. As a result, the NGO is making a huge impact on future educational opportunities for students.

This past February, The Askshaya Patra Foundation served its 3 billionth meal since it started in 2000. The commemoration of this milestone was celebrated with Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi.

From campaigns and benefit galas to open auctions, the NGO also raises awareness about malnutrition and counsels families on ensuring proper nutrition for infants and children. The non-profit remains firmly committed to its motto, “No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger.”

Around the world, nearly one in two people live in poverty. Furthermore, 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, according to the Food Aid Foundation.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest secular school lunch program, is tackling this massive problem. It serves 1.8 million nutritious meals every school day to children ages 6 to 14 years old. Some 51 kitchens in India make 10,000 to 250,000 meals in six hours, and more than 800 trucks transport the meals to schools six days a week. It works across 661 locations in India, which includes Govandi in Mumbai, Mokhada in Palghar, Dharni in Amravati, Baran in Rajasthan, Burhanpur and Dhar in Madhya Pradesh.

The non-profit organization aims to eliminate classroom hunger, increase school attendance, enrollment and retention, improve socialization and address malnutrition. It works in partnership with the Central Government and various state governments, which provide grain and cash subsidies of about 60 percent of their total cost. The remaining 40 percent is covered by support received from corporate, foundation and individual donors.

“In India, 120 million children in government schools come from marginalized families and live on $1.20 a day,” said Vandana Tilak, CEO of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. “Some 80 percent of children that we feed have not had a meal since the day before and is their only meal of the day, so we make sure it has the complete nutrition that’s required for a growing child.”

The Akshaya Patra Foundation also provides a dessert one day a week, which remains a surprise for the students. “We want the students to have the luxury of sweets, which they never would have gotten from the type of families they come from,” Tilak said.

There’s a big educational link to these meals. The students come to school rather than working to earn money for their families. As a result, the NGO is making a huge impact on future educational opportunities for students.

This past February, The Askshaya Patra Foundation served its 3 billionth meal since it started in 2000. The commemoration of this milestone was celebrated with Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi.

From campaigns and benefit galas to open auctions, the NGO also raises awareness about malnutrition and counsels families on ensuring proper nutrition for infants and children. The non-profit remains firmly committed to its motto, “No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger.”