Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, India has been on lockdown in order to minimize the spread of the virus. The national lockdown closed schools, many of which provided a healthy and nutritious meal to students daily. The Research and Advocacy wing of The Akshaya Patra Foundation conducted a ground study on the impact of COVID-19 on the families of the children and teachers of the schools in which we serve the mid-day meals.
Chandana, an eighth grade student in Belari described their home situation, which many other students may be relating to right now, “Both parents go to the garment company and they did not receive their salary. We are struggling with rent, food, and money issues. We also did not receive any help from the Government and hardly have food to eat. We want some help from the Government or anyone to give us at least two meals a day. I would love to eat MDM as we want at least one meal which is good. I love MDM meals.”
In the state of Karnataka 96% of families, especially among economically marginalized communities, reported that their economic livelihood had been affected by the national shutdown, with 69% of those families losing their jobs altogether. Many families have even reported reduced food intake due to their lack of funds. Without the guarantee of a meal at school each day, more than half of the study’s respondents say that children have had to take on paid jobs and household chores in order to help support their families. This shift could lead to reduced enrollment in the coming school years. Fortunately, Akshaya Patra has adapted their programs to serve students, their families, and teachers during the lockdown with cooked meals and dry grocery kits.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been working with the government to provide both cooked meals and dry grocery kits to the most vulnerable communities in each state. Between March and July, Akshaya Patra provided more than 75 million meals to those in need. We hope to increase that number to serve even more families in need.
Consider contributing to our COVID-19 Relief Fund to support our efforts in feeding the students, families, and teachers during this crisis.