Akshaya Patra is dedicated to providing meals to schoolchildren, because when the tummy is full, the mind is free to soar. Our free midday meals provide students the nutritional meal they need to stay focused in school, which in turn has successfully increased attendance, performance levels, and the net enrollment ratio, particularly among girls in primary school.
India’s culturally ingrained preference for male children has come at a cost for daughters over the years, who have a lower school attendance rate, experience more violence, and face lower pay in work. Despite the rise in the nation’s GDP over the last decade, India’s women have been met with a major decline in labor force participation.
Gender equality is among one of the seven sustainable development goals we strive to reach. Out of the 7,300 staff we employ at our kitchens, 30% are women. Women hired in our kitchens are empowered to become leaders while remaining respectful of Indian heritage and family structure. In areas with difficult terrain that does not support our centralized kitchen model, the local women from these rural areas can make up to 5,000 meals in a single day. This model provides these women with a sustainable source of income to help lift them out of the cycle of poverty on their own.
For their own safety, our female staff come to work after sunrise at 10:00 am and leave by 6:30 pm in order to make it home before sunset. Our community development approach ensures that women are able to make their mark in the workforce by providing appropriate terms of employment. We also encourage all our students, regardless of gender, to gain a quality education and improve their nutritional health. Nearly half of all participants of our school lunch program (45%) are girls.
When you make a donation to the Akshaya Patra Foundation, you are helping give the gift of a brighter future to women in India.