Rise in attendance in Bhilai schools due to Akshaya Patra meals

Bhilai: Amid the mid-day meal scare in Bihar and other similar incidents hitting headlines, schools around steel city Bhilai, see a silver lining with 'Akshaya Patra', providing hygienic and tasty food from its centralised kitchen. It cooks, packs and supplies hot meal to over 29,000 students in and around Bhilai leading to an excellent improvement in attendance of students.

Setting its mark, Akshaya Patra's vision is 'unlimited food for education'. It has tied students to its tasty, hot-served meal, shooting up the attendance to above 84 per cent in the last six years, claims a survey by ORG Centre for Social Research. The impact of mid-day meal in classroom has made students score above 50 per cent, according to the study.

Anyone entering the factory-like kitchen has to wear gumboots, gloves, caps and other protective gears. The meals are stirred out in huge vessels. The vehicles for transportation are heat insulated, dust-free and are washed before the meals board them.

The social service organisation which went operational in Bhilai in 2009, is recorded as the largest mid-day meal provider by Limca Book of Records and aims to feed 5 million students by the year 2020.

Serving around 159 schools in and around Bhilai, Akshaya Patra maintains a non-negotiable hygienic kitchen keeping food safety as the top priority. Food is packed in hot stainless steel carriers and sent through customised vans to feed 95 per cent of Government school students. "The only complaint is that students demand dry vegetable without gravy, but our cooking machines are yet to reach that stage," President of Akshaya Patra, Bhilai, Vyomapada Das told TOI.

Akshaya Patra, which is serving 1.3 million school students in nine states, is ready to extend the facility to other parts of the state as well if given support by the state government. Currently, the kitchen is feeding over 29,000 children in Bhilai. The cost per child borne by the organization is Rs. 8, out of which Rs. 4 is paid by the government and Rs. 2.50 by Bhilai Steel Plant," he said. 

Source: Times Of India

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