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Indra Nooyi Speaks At Akshaya Patra Gala

Deb Shapiro

On May 14, 2011, Mrs. Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo was the invited guest of The Akshaya Patra Foundation USA (www.foodforeducation.org), a Massachusetts based organization with the vision that no child shall be deprived of education because of hunger.  In his remarks, Desh Deshpande, Chairman of the Akshaya Patra USA, focused on the nutrition, operational efficiency and distribution network of Akshaya Patra which he said quite often is missing in NGOs.

Speaking to over 400 guests Mrs. Nooyi discussed her personal history of growing up in Chennai, India with food rations and the impact that the Green Revolution had on improving the quality of life in India.  Mrs. Nooyi stated “The message of Akshaya Patra, which PepsiCo, believes in deeply is clear.  We can meet the world’s food needs as long as we work together to create change.”

In closing remarks Mrs. Nooyi stated “A child’s hunger is entirely preventable, the simple and powerful mission of Akshaya Patra is not just filling empty bellies, but changing the trajectory of countless lives, and this gives us all a renewed sense of what is possible and working together we can unleash the possibility of a better future for every child.”

“The Boston community’s unwavering commitment to the future of the children and the heartwarming enthusiasm to ensure that hunger is not a barrier to education was on full display during the benefit event.” said Madhu Sridhar, President and CEO of Akshaya Patra USA.

The primary focus of the event was to raise funds for Akshaya Patra and its unique and innovative program for fighting hunger and promoting education simultaneously. $440,000 was raised on May 14, due to the generosity of our guests and sponsors.

During the event the formation of the Boston Advisory Board was announced. This important effort will be led by Mr. Jit Saxena, a co-founder and chairman of the board at Netezza. Also sitting on the Board are Amita Chopra, Sanjiv Chopra, Puran Dang, Anita Goel, Ravi Ika, Subu Kota, Santhana Kirshnan, Vik Mehrotra, Neelu Mehrotra, Smita Patel, Venkat Srinivasan, Sushil Tuli, Girija Verma and Sanjeev Verma.  “The Advisory Board will help strengthen the Boston chapter and help the organization achieve its next goal of serving 5 million deserving school children by 2020.” said Sridhar.

Currently, the program feeds 1.3 million children DAILY in over 8,000 schools through 18 kitchens in eight states in India. For many children this is their only complete meal of the day. The benefit was attended by key community leaders, business executives and eminent change agents committed to unlock these children from the vicious and perpetual cycle of poverty and determined to closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

About Akshaya Patra

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the world’s largest NGO-run midday meal programs. A public-private partnership, Akshaya Patra combines good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver school lunch at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world. It costs only $31 to feed a child for an entire year, and with government subsidy, it takes just $11.50. This meal gives these children an incentive to come to school, stay in school and provides them with the necessary nutrients they need to develop their cognitive abilities to focus on learning. These children are not in school because of economic necessities.

Started modestly in Bangalore feeding 1500 children in five schools, the foundation has grown to become the largest, and certainly most innovative, school lunch program in the world.  Akshaya Patra is a great example of what can be accomplished when the public sector, private sector and the civic society collaborate-- a cost effective, scalable solution with high quality service delivery. Akshaya Patra’s next milestone is to serve 5 million children daily by 2020.

President Obama in his congratulatory note to Akshaya Patra wrote, “Your use of efficient and innovative business practices to scale up in just a few years from feeding 1,500 school children daily to almost a million is a powerful demonstration of what's possible when people work together.”

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Indra Nooyi

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