Youth Ambassador, Jahnavi Mehta (Akshaya Patra USA)

The Los Angeles Chapter of Akshaya Patra Foundation USA hosted a magical evening of festivity to celebrate Diwali and kick-off the holiday season, Nov. 17, at its annual fundraising gala.

Akshaya Patra’s mission that “no child should be deprived of an education due to hunger” is the largest NGO managed mid-day meal program in the world according to Timemagazine. Currently feeding 1.75 million school children daily, Akshaya Patra is a highly efficient and economical business model offering concrete solutions to addressing childhood hunger and educating the underprivileged children of India. It costs only $20.00 to feed a child for an entire school year.

The gala was a tremendous success with a full capacity crowd of 400 philanthropic leaders, business executives, socially conscious individuals and youth ambassadors.  The event was held at the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Garden Grove.

Highlights of the evening included a speech by youth ambassador, Jahnavi Mehta, who took the initiative to visit a kitchen in India and teach the children martial arts at an Akshaya Patra school in Bangalore. Her involvement and enthusiasm to share her gifts with the Akshaya Patra school children was inspiring for everyone.

Akshaya Patra Foundation CEO Vandana Tilak, Dr. Jasvant Modi, Manu Shah, and Mahesh Wadher. (Akshaya Patra USA)

Vandana Tilak, CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, spoke about the growth of the organization throughout the U.S. to support the vision for Akshaya Patra into the future. “By 2020, the goal is to feed 5 million school children daily.”  There was a huge outpouring of support from the audience to make that vision a reality. As a spontaneous gesture of support, Manu Shah, Dr. Jasvant Modi and Mahesh Wadher pledged to fund the upcoming Mumbai Kitchen for $500,000. The chapter exceeded expectations for the pledge drive and total amount raised during the year.

The evening concluded with a rousing musical performance by Bollywood’s finest playback singers, Samir Date and Dipalee Somaiya Date.  Based in Mumbai, the husband and wife duo are well known for their immense contribution to the film industry. Samir has worked with the likes of Yash Chopra, Asha Bhosle, Bappi Lahiri, Raam Laxman, Ekta Kapoor and many others. In perfect Diwali fashion, the crowd gathered in front of the stage to dance to old Bollywood songs.

Akshaya Patra continues its fundraising efforts through the Giving Tuesday campaign on Facebook. Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving powered by social media and was held on Nov. 27.

Akshaya Patra Volunteers and Youth Ambassadors. (Akshaya Patra USA)

The very meaning of Akshaya Patra is the unlimited bowl of abundance and sustenance. Started in the year 2000, the pilot program served 1,500 children daily in 5 schools. Today the organization feeds 1.75 million school children daily in 14,125 schools across 12 states in India. The state-of-the-art kitchens provide fresh, nutritious hot meals to counter the issues of malnutrition and support the right to education for children from socio-economically deprived backgrounds.

Interested readers can learn more about The Akshaya Patra Foundation at