Prime Minister Narendra Modi serves a meal to a child at the Akshaya Patra event to commemorate the 3 Billion Meals served, in Vrindavan, Feb. 11. (The Akshaya Patra Foundation)
Ceremonial celebrations to commemorate the three-billionth meal served by The Akshaya Patra Foundation was well attended by the Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and several dignitaries of India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi commemorated The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s serving of cumulative 3 billion meals at an event held at the organization’s campus in Vrindavan, Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, Feb. 11. The Prime Minister was joined by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Ram Naik, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Akshaya Patra is the world’s first NGO-run school meal program to achieve the milestone of serving 3 Billion cumulative meals. It is a major milestone in the foundation’s pursuit of the mission to serve meals to 5 million children every school day by 2025. With the support of the government, donors, and all the other stakeholders, the organization is poised to realize its vision ‘no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.
In 2012, Akshaya Patra reached its first major milestone of serving 1 Billion cumulative meals since the inception of the program in 2000. By 2016, the organization had already served a cumulative 2 Billion meals. That milestone was commemorated in the presence of Pranab Mukherjee, the then President of India, on Aug. 27, 2016, in Bengaluru.
The event was attended by eminent political figures from Uttar Pradesh including Shrikant Sharma, Minister of Power; Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, Minister – Dairy Development, Religious Affairs, Culture, Minority Welfare, Muslim Waqf and Haj; and Anupma Jaiswal, Minister of State – Basic Education, Child Development and Nutrition, Revenue and Finance.
Other dignitaries in attendance were Hema Malini, MP – Mathura; Karinda Singh, MLA – Govardhan, Shyam Sunder Sharma, MLA – Mant; Pooran Prakash, MLA – Baldev, and Mukesh Arya Bandhu, Mayor – Mathura- Vrindavan Nagar Nigam.
Madhu Pandit Dasa, chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation; Chanchalapathi Dasa, vice chairman; Mohandas Pai, independent trustee; other trustees and officials, and presidents of various regions were present at the occasion.
Prime Minister Modi began the ceremony by paying homage to Srila Prabhupada, the inspiration behind Akshaya Patra’s meal program. Chanchalapathi Dasa welcomed and felicitated the dignitaries. An invocation was sung by Akshaya Patra beneficiaries from Vrindavan. It was followed by speeches by Yogi Adityanath, Mohandas Pai, and Madhu Pandit Dasa.
Prime Minister Modi unveiled the commemorative plaque to mark the serving of 3 Billionth meal by Akshaya Patra. He addressed the gathering and showed his support to the foundation’s initiative by serving the ceremonial 3 Billionth meal. The Prime Minister, much to the delight of the children, even shared meals with them.
Madhu Pandit Dasa expressed his delight over having reached this milestone and conveyed his gratitude to all the stakeholders, including the Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), State Governments, corporates, donors, partners, and the community at large, for their continued support. He also reiterated the commitment to serve hot, nutritious, safe, and tasty meals to children every school day and further added that the Foundation will strive to enhance the impact of mid-day meals through various innovative initiatives.
Akshaya Patra is a not-for-profit organization, which strives to address classroom hunger and bring children to school by implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in Government and Government-aided schools. Since 2000, the Foundation has worked towards reaching more children with wholesome food on every single school day. The foundation is continuously leveraging technology to cater to millions of children. Its state-of-the-art kitchens have become a subject of study and attract curious visitors from around the world.
In partnership with the Government of India and various State Governments, and the inestimable support of many philanthropic donors and well-wishers, Akshaya Patra has grown from humble beginnings serving just 1,500 school children across five schools. Today, Akshaya Patra’s Mid-Day Meal Program is the world’s largest (not-for- profit run) school lunch program serving over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states in India.
Interested readers can find more information at www.FoodForEducation.org