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If you can't feed a hundred people, just feed one


This past weekend I had organized a youth/adult service project at North Texas Food Bank for the local AkshayaPatra chapter.  As the chapter is working towards kicking of a youth initiative, it was interesting to hear the observations and questions from these kids after they watched the video. Some suggested, raising awareness, some spoke about giving up gifts to collect money for the cause. While it is still up to many of us adults to continue to sow the seeds within their minds, the youngsters once hooked can get very creative on ideas to both raise money and awareness!

We then went to the warehouse floor to bag “kids backpacks” for children across north Texas that may not have enough to eat on weekends when they are not in school to receive a nutritious NTFB meal. The backpacks include a weekends’ supply of cereal, milk, juice, some breakfast bars and snacks. Ideally the bag is meant to offer food to kids whose parents or caretakers are likely to not be able to provide the same. We observed what NTFB calls the “New face of hunger”… only 5-10% of the people NTFB serves are what we might imagine the clients of the nonprofit to be – the homeless, the poor – the rest are people we might be interacting with on a daily basis and may not even know that they are dependent on the Food Bank to support their daily needs.

It was interesting to compare and contrast two models both dealing with solving hunger issues but in two different countries – US and India.

In India, Akshaya Patra is now feeding one million children every day during the school year. It uses two operational models for its kitchens: centralized and decentralized. The lunches prepared by Akshaya Patra are professionally managed, nutritionally balanced, hygienic, as well as tailored for regional diet preferences. The centralized kitchen model leverages technology to increase efficiency, lower costs and maintain high standards of quality. The kitchen in Hubli can prepare 185,000 meals in less than five hours. Some key aspects of the centralized models include mechanized machinery, adherence to international standards of hygiene and quality and larger reach in regards to the area, schools and students served.

The decentralized kitchen model is for rural areas where transportation costs are high due to road conditions and the large distance separating villages. In the decentralized model, small kitchens are built next to the schools and local women are employed to prepare the meals for the children. The women are paid a salary and trained in cooking methods and hygiene, so the meals are balanced for nutritional content and are prepared hygienically. The Akshaya Patra brand has come to symbolize quality and good taste everywhere – something the rural kitchens take pride in.

By leveraging technology in cooking and delivery, Akshaya Patra has helped to build a global standard of supply chain efficiency. It has also put in place forward and backward linkages to ensure that procurement is done directly from the local farmers and delivered to the beneficiaries in the most cost-efficient manner. By sourcing its food stocks from local markets, Akshaya Patra is able to reduce costs associated with transportation and food spoilage while supporting the local economy. It insulates Akshaya Patra from the current world food crisis. The Akshaya Patra method has been embraced by the local farmers, teachers and the communities surrounding each kitchen.

Averaged nationally, the cost for Akshaya Patra to feed a child in India a daily meal for an entire year is $31. With the government subsidy, $23 feeds two children.


On the other hand in the US, The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is a nonprofit hunger relief organization that distributes donated, purchased and prepared foods through a network of 1,184 feeding programs in 13 North Texas counties. The NTFB supports the nutritional needs of children, families and seniors through education, advocacy and strategic partnerships. Close the Gap is the NTFB’s 3-year initiative to unite the community to narrow the food gap by providing access to 50 million meals annually by 2011.

Founded in 1982, the NTFB is a member of Feeding America ( *Last year, the NTFB provided access to almost 45 million meals through its efforts, 7.7 million meals, or 21 percent more, than the previous year. Each month Member Agency pantries distribute food to nearly 25,000 people every day. Every dollar donated to the NTFB provides four meals for the hungry.

For every $$ donated to NTFB, 3 meals are provided to the needy.


If you wish to learn more or get involved with AkshayaPatra’s DFW youth or adult chapter, please let me know.