• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Akshaya Patra feted at UN for its four billionth meal

In this photo taken on May 19, 2015, a man serves lunch, organised by the non-profit Akshaya Patra Foundation, to schoolgirls at Chaumuha Primary School in Vrindavan, India. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Shajil KumarBy: Shajil Kumar

The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s historic milestone of serving four billion meals was celebrated at the United Nations headquarters on Tuesday (2).

Founded in 2000, this Indian non-profit runs 72 kitchens, and feeds 2.1 million children every day in 24,000 schools.

The Permanent Mission of India to the UN hosted a special event — ‘Achievements in Food Security: India’s Strides Towards Sustainable Development Goals’ to commemorate the feat achieved by Akshaya Patra. Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, and The Akshaya Patra Foundation chairman Madhu Pandit Dasa were present.

In a message sent for the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the entire team of The Akshaya Patra Foundation.

“This achievement stands as a testament to an unwavering commitment to eradicate hunger and provide nourishment to humanity. The significance of this milestone is further highlighted by serving the meal at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, showcasing a passion for global wellbeing,” Modi said in the message that was read out by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj.

In his keynote address, Satyarthi told the gathering that commemorating the milestone of four billion meals at the UN headquarters is “very significant” and sends a “very strong message” since this is the “place that represents the hopes and inspirations of 8 billion people”.

Murthy appealed to leaders of other countries to emulate the Akshaya Patra model and “bring joy, health, confidence, hope and success to poor children in their own countries”.

He said Akshaya Patra raises “our confidence that good things can indeed happen in India”.

Dasa said Akshaya Patra was willing to share its rich experience in using the best technology and logistics of large-scale cooking and distribution of food with any organisation in any part of the world.

He said the foundation had served over 250 million meals during the pandemic in India and a kitchen was set up in Nepal to provide hot meals to people affected by an earthquake. Recently, it provided food, grocery and hygiene kits in Turkiye, for the earthquake survivors.

“We are also serving the people of Ukraine” who are facing food security challenges due to war, Dasa said.

Kamboj said Akshaya Patra’s efforts “shine as a model of hope and a template for impactful action”.

“This goes beyond feeding the hungry. It’s about educating the young and empowering women, driving both SDG 2 — zero hunger and SDG 4 — quality education by incentivising children to attend school,” she said. (PTI)

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