Congressional Hunger Center Launches Exhibit Featuring Akshaya Patra
The Congressional Hunger Center (CHC), a nonprofit anti-hunger training organization located in Washington, D.C., launched an exhibit last week featuring photographs of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, as well as other midday meal programs in Mali and Chile. The exhibit is designed to help inform members of Congress, policy makers and other key opinion leaders on the success, magnitude and worth of school feeding programs around the world.
"We were extremely pleased with the turnout at the event. The exhibit, which highlighted three different school feeding programs in Mali, Chile and India served to educate Members of Congress, their staff, and the non-profit community about the importance of school feeding,” said Elizabeth Whelan, the Associate Director of the Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellows Program at the CHC, and photographer for the exhibit. “In India we wanted to highlight both the government's commitment to the right to food, as well as Akshaya Patra's innovative and creative technologies that enable them to serve over one million school children per day. It is this commitment, partnership and innovation that makes both the government of India and Akshaya Patra worthy of highlighting."
The photographs were taken along with in-depth interviews and site visits to Akshaya Patra kitchens and schools. The exhibit is part of a larger initiative to increase support for school feeding. According to the CHC, school feeding programs have been proven to not only alleviate childhood hunger, but also to promote educational opportunities for children, especially young girls. This photography exhibit is part of an effort to bring the voices of people who implement or are impacted by school feeding programs to those who are making program and policy decisions. The exhibit will travel to different venues and events throughout the country over the next year.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the Congressional Hunger Center for Akshaya Patra’s innovative solution to eradicating hunger while promoting access to education,” said Madhu Sridhar, Akshaya Patra USA’s President and CEO. “Akshaya Patra is a great example of what can be accomplished when the public sector, private sector and civic society collaborate-- a cost effective, scalable solution with high quality service delivery. The program is a true global model of efficiency and ingenuity, built and designed to be easily replicated in other parts of the world.”
“The photo exhibit was extraordinarily powerful,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, (D-MA), co-chair of the Congressional Hunger Center. “I’m proud that the House Hunger Caucus continues to educate members and staff about not only the reality of childhood hunger in the world, but also the incredible people and programs that are tackling the problem.”
About Akshaya Patra
The Akshaya Patra Foundation is the world’s largest NGO-run midday meal program, feeding over one million children each day in over 5,700 schools through 17 kitchens in seven states in India. 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 $28 to feed a child daily for the entire school year. With an average government subsidy of 50 percent, $28 can feed two children. For many of the children this is their only complete meal for the day. This gives them 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.
Akshaya Patra’s kitchens are specially designed by engineers to leverage technology. The organization also sources its food stocks from local markets, thereby reducing costs associated with transportation and food spoilage while supporting the local economy. In a short time, 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 a non-profit organization can achieve-- a cost effective, scalable solution with high quality service delivery. After reaching its goal of feeding one million children each school day, Akshaya Patra’s next milestone is to serve 5 million children daily by 2020. For more information, please visit www.foodforeducation.org.
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