Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vrindavan recently and served food to underprivileged school children. He also unveiled a ceremonial plaque to mark the serving of ‘3rd billionth meal’ by the Akshaya Patra Foundation at Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir in Vrindavan.
“Donation given to deserving people without thinking is ‘satvik daan’ (charity done in the mode of goodness), Akshaya Patra is doing ‘satvik daan’,” he said.
“First thali through this NGO was served by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and “I feel fortunate to serve the 3rd billionth thali today,” Modi said.
From serving just 1,500 children in the beginning to over 17 lakh now, the NGO is helping in the growth of the country.
After his nearly 30-minute address, he served food to the schoolchildren from Vrindavan in a special pavilion made for the purpose, behind the main pavilion.
Modi also tweeted a video clip of it and said, “Had the honor of serving food to children in Vrindavan today”.
The Bengaluru-based NGO said, besides, the foundation also wants to serve schoolchildren in Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal where it is yet to enter since its inception in 2000. 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 and 42 locations, the foundation’s chairman Madhu Pandit Das said.
“Delhi, we have been trying to enter for the last 10 years. We already have made two kitchens there and awaiting the nod from authorities. The Kejriwal government wants us to be there, but there are a few complications,” NGO’s chairman Madhu Pandit Das said.
“We also want to enter Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. And in Uttar Pradesh, we are expanding in a big way. The UP government has been helping us in building kitchens and funds have been released,” he said.
Bharatarshabha Das, director, Strategic Relations, Akshaya Patra Foundation, said, in Uttar Pradesh, a few cities have been identified for kitchens, namely Agra, Kanpur, Varanasi, Ambedkar Nagar and Ghaziabad, and six others are in the pipeline.
The mid-day meal programme is considered to be the largest of its kind food-for-children programme in the world. The scheme aims to encourage and increase enrolment, attendance, and retention of children in schools. It also intends to improve the health profile of children in the age group of 6-14 years.