Akshaya Patra 'three billionth meal' for underprivileged school children
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who served Akshaya Patra's food to schoolchildren from the underprivileged background on Monday, had opened its "first kitchen" in Gujarat in 2004 as the state's chief minister, a senior functionary of the NGO said. A mega event was held in the Vrindavan Chadrodaya Mandir complex in this holy city to mark "three billionth meal" offered by Akshaya Patra.
"This is PM Modi's first visit to Vrindavan's Chardodaya Mandir campus... And, we are fortunate to have the prime minister himself serving the three billionth meal. Incidentally, he had inaugurated the foundation's first kitchen in Gandhinagar in 2004 as Gujarat's chief minister," said Bharatarshabha Dasa, Director, Strategic Relations, Akshaya Patra Foundation. Modi served as the state's chief minister from 2001 to 2014 and in May 2014 became the country's prime minister after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the elections.
The first billionth meal was served by Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy and the second billionth milestone was commemorated in the presence of the President Pranab Mukherjee in Bengaluru in 2016. Modi during the event here also unveiled a ceremonial plaque to mark the serving of "3rd billionth meal" by the NGO.
Funded by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Akshsya Patra is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit organisation that works with the government on mid-day meal schemes. Akshaya Patra has a state-of-the-art kitchen in Vrindavan and Modi served food to children near the facility.
The centralised kitchen in the Mandir complex caters to government schools in Mathura-Vrindavan as part of the mid-day meal scheme. The capacity of the kitchen is to feed 1.5 lakh children per day, and each meal includes rice, dal, chapatti and a vegetable, a senior official in the corporate communication department for the northern region, said.
The programme was streamed live on the web across all 42 centres of Akshaya Patra in the country, Naveena Neerada Dasa, the head of strategic communications in ISKCON, said. "In Gujarat, where we are a partner for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, all government schools hosted the streaming," he said.
A silver 'patra' (container), as symbolised in the foundation's logo, was gifted to the prime minister, Dasa said. The event will commemorate the NGO's serving of cumulative three billion meals since its inception in 2000.
Today, Akshaya Patra is the world's largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states, the foundation said.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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