Akshaya Pātra USA

Unlimited food for education

Food for Thought by Meeta Chaitanya: Jyothika’s story

Meeta Chaitanya
Columnist for The Times of India

Sambar Unlimited: Jyothika’s story

Jytothika, a 6th grade student at an Akshaya Patra Mid-Day Meal Program sponsored school knows exactly why she loves her food. She loves it because it is tasty; because it is nutritious; because it has variety; because it is available daily, but most of all, because it is unlimited.

“The best part about Akshaya Patra meals is that it’s unlimited and has variety. Often I skip breakfast because my parents go to the fields early morning. This makes it difficult to concentrate during the first few hours and my whole mind is fixed on the lunch hour, which really is the best part of the day. They prepare 3 types of sambar during the week so that we don’t get bored and they make sure it is full of vegetables. Wednesdays are a treat because of the sweet Pongal they give us which also happens to be my favorite dish.”

After Akshaya Patra started serving meals in the school, Jyothika’s performance has seen a steady rise.

Passionate about her favorite subject - English, she is in 6th grade and dreams of becoming a teacher. Ask her why and she replies, “I can feel the difference education brings to one’s life. My friends and I would run barefoot in the village all day till our teacher told us how all our nerves are connected to our feet and the dangerous consequences this can lead to. I too would like to educate the coming generations and ensure that my people step out of this remote area and earn themselves a respectable life.”

Ironically, barefoot in the park is a phrase that her teachers may dismiss literally but symbolically it is exactly what children like Jyothika need – unchartered childhood running its own unfettered course flavored with an unlimited bowl of sambar… and English!

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