What does Akshaya Patra mean?
The Sanskrit word Akshaya Patra (meaning abundant, inexhaustible) has its origins in the great epic Mahabharata and means a pot of food which provides endless nourishment. It aptly reflects the aspirations of the organization to provide unlimited food to underprivileged children and mitigate their sufferings.
How long has Akshaya Patra been in existence?
Akshaya Patra was started in 2000 in Bangalore and has grown exponentially in the last 15 years from feeding 1,500 children daily to currently distributing freshly cooked healthy meals daily to over 1.6 million underserved children in over 13,529 government schools in ten states in India. The US office was established in June, 2006.
Is Akshaya Patra a religious organization?
No. The program is secular, inclusive and non-discriminating as it is provided only in Government schools that already have a secular policy for admission.
How is Akshaya Patra a public-private partnership?
The Akshaya Patra Foundation functions as a public-private partnership where the federal government, state governments and corporations have come together with Akshaya Patra to support the midday meal (MDM) program. The federal government provides grains in the form of a subsidy. State governments also subsidize the program.
How much do these kitchens cost?
It depends on the size of the kitchen. A kitchen that can cook for 100,000 children costs approximately $2 to $3 million.
How do you decide what kind of meals to serve?
Akshaya Patra tailors its meals to accommodate dietary needs reflective of cultural and regional appetites. For example, in the north, Akshaya Patra serves chapattis, dahl and sabji/vegetable . In the South, Akshaya Patra serves rice, sambar with vegetables and yogurt.
How do you guarantee transparency and accountability? What sort of financial control and audits are in place?
Akshaya Patra has a strong internal control system in place. Each of the branches is audited by an independent chartered accountant on a monthly and quarterly basis. We have an Audit Committee, which is headed by Mr. V Balakrishnan, CFO, Infosys Technologies Ltd and it meets once in a quarter. Our Statutory Audit is being done by BSR & Co. (Sister organization of KPMG in India) and our IFRS accounts are vetted by the KPMG. The Foundation has involved KPMG to audit the program for funds utilization, thereby ensuring transparency and a high degree of accountability.
Inventory control is also fully mechanized by computers ensuring that all the food is properly distributed and accounted for. From 2011-12, we have implemented ERP across the Foundation.. Akshaya Patra has an independent board of trustees which meet on quarterly basis to discuss and finalize the strategic decisions.
What impact has Akshaya Patra had so far? Does it have any impact on girls?
Akshaya Patra has a demonstrated impact on the children it reaches. AC Nielsen, an independent research firm, performed an impact assessment in 2006, 2008 and 2010, measuring key indicators such as enrollment, attendance and health. The study demonstrated an increased enrollment, better health and improved performance among students who received school lunches, especially among the female students.
How is Akshaya Patra funded?
Over 80% of the total funds are raised in India. The rest is raised in the US and UK. Akshaya Patra is funded with donations made by individuals, corporations and foundations. Federal government provides subsidies in the form of grains. State governments provide Akshaya Patra cash subsidies that vary from state to state.
What is the function of the USA office?
Akshaya Patra USA exists to raise awareness and funds to support the program in India.
How much do you spend in administrative and overhead costs?
For every dollar donated, we send $.80 to our programs in India.
What is the difference between the India and US board of directors?
Akshaya Patra India and Akshaya Patra USA have two separate and independent boards. There are some members that are overlapping. We hold joint meetings once a year and work closely together throughout the year.
Are the donations made to Akshaya Patra tax deductible?
Yes, Akshaya Patra is a 501c(3) organization.