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Balancing mid-day meals with good corporate governance

Shishir Sinha Vrindavan (Mathura) | Updated on November 16, 2014

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NGO Akshay Patra, along with State Govts, feeds 14 lakh school children daily



Chanchalapathi Dasa, an Indian Institute of Science alumnus, is a proud man today as the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI), in its 52-year history, has placed just one non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the Hall of Fame for excellent audit work.

That NGO is Akshay Patra, which daily feeds over 14 lakh school children in urban areas through the mid-day meal programme in association with State governments. Dasa, who is among the three executive members of the governing council of Akshay Patra, set up by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Bangalore, says: “For the past five years, our NGO has been awarded for excellent reporting by the ICAI. In fact, we get our books audited by KPMG.”

ISKCON set up a centralised kitchen in Bangalore in 2000 with a capacity to feed 1,500 children. Next year, the then Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and the then Karnataka Chief Minister launched a mission to feed 30,000 children in Bangalore.

Dasa said the effort is to continuously improve the standard of food, along with governance. “ISKCON has set up a separate trust for the scheme, which ensures transparency and corporate governance. It also has an audit committee, and we publish our books every year,” he said.

At present, Akshay Patra has centralised kitchens at 21 locations in 10 States, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam.

The kitchens prepare a simple meal for 14.3 lakh school children by 9 am every day and the entire transportation and distribution is done by 12-12.30 in the neighbouring schools.

“We are in talks with companies to have thermal insulated containers so that meals remain hot till they reach the schools,” said Dasa.

For a meal costing ₹7.50, the Government gives₹4.50, while the trust contributes ₹3 by using donations. “Annual expenditure on running scheme is around ₹160 crore. Out of that, we get around ₹100 crore from the Government.

“We depend upon people for contributions for the remaining amount,” Dasa said, adding that they “are bringing money from Bangalore to feed kids in Vrindavan.”

Published on November 16, 2014

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