Coronavirus: This non-profit has distributed over 2 Cr meals to the underprivileged
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly through the length and breadth of the country. As of latest count, the total number of cases recorded has crossed 18,000, with about 592 deaths. Given the situation, the Indian government declared a lockdown for the second time, last week.
While the pandemic has impacted everyone in different capacities, the vulnerable sections of the society have been the worst-hit. Several UN reports have estimated that hunger and poverty, alone, can kill people more than the coronavirus if they don’t receive timely help and support. Socio-economic models have shown that the disease will also create a greater gulf between the rich and the poor in capitalist countries, again feeding into the cycle of poverty, hunger, and death.
While the government has put some systems in place to take the pressure off these marginalised groups, several NGOs, altruistic individuals, and non-profits are also stepping in to lend a helping hand by distributing meals and relief kits to people in need.
One such organisation is The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
“We have been able to serve over two crore meals to people in need during these difficult times due to the collaborative efforts of everyone involved,” says Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
The non-profit has been closely working with civic bodies to prepare freshly cooked meals at its network of kitchens, and then deliver them to the various centres where the distribution happens.
These meals and relief kits have been distributed in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Delhi and NCR, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
The relief kits are specific to the place where they are being distributed, packed with essential groceries based on the local palate. For instance, the kits distributed in Bengaluru, contain rice, tur dal, oil, spices, sambar, and Rasam powder, and vegetables that have longer shelf-lives, like potatoes and pumpkins. These kits can last a family for a good 28 meals at the very least.
Till date, Akshaya Patra has cumulatively served nearly 22 million meals and equivalents, out of which 9.4 million were freshly cooked meals, while 302,541 were relief kits (12.6 million meal servings), for the cause.
Set up in 2000, Akshaya Patra is a non-profit organisation which strives to address hunger and malnutrition in the children of India through their mid-day meals scheme in government and government-aided schools.
The Foundation has been supported by many proactive corporate partners and individual donors.
Infosys co-founder, N. R. Narayana Murthy, and his wife Sudha Murthy, have contributed Rs 10 crore from their personal funds towards Akshaya Patra’s COVID-19 relief work. Their donation enabled Akshaya Patra to distribute 1.33 lakh food relief kits, equivalent to nearly 5.6 million meals.
Support has poured in not only in the form of money, but also kind: General Mills in Mumbai contributed cookies and cakes, while Britannia donated about 20,000 packs of Good Day biscuits. Flavoured yogurt company, Epigamia, sent in 17,000 premium yoghurt cups for distribution in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Noida.
Corporates such as Biocon, Capgemini, CISCO, Coca–Cola, CLP, Deutsche Bank, DLF Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Gland Pharmaceuticals, HT Parekh Foundation, Hero Moto Corp, Infosys Foundation, LG Electronics, Morgan Stanley, Nestle India, PepsiCo Foundation, Sarojini Trust, Texas Instruments, and Vedanta, among many others, have also come forward to aid these efforts.
“I sincerely hope that the situation will improve soon and people will be able to get back to their day-to-day life. Until then, we will continue our efforts to serve as many people as possible,” Madhu Pandit said.