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Last updated: 18 July, 2007 - Published 17:22 GMT
 
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In Pictures: feeding 750,000 in India
 

Seven years ago there were 300,000 children within a 50 kilometre radius of Bangalore in India who'd regularly spend the whole day without eating a meal.

That fact that came to the attention of Madhu Pandit Das, an engineer who, in the year 2000, set about doing something about it.

In July 2000 Das set up a non-profit making organisation called Akshaya Patra Foundation which now provides school meals to 750,000 children across India.

This is thought to be the biggest kitchen in India. The kitchen makes food for 125,000 children everyday and all this is made in just 5 hours. Each container has the capacity to cook over 100 kilograms of rice in just fifteen minutes.

Food is delivered to schools in sealed and heat retaining containers just before the lunch break every day - using custom-built vehicles.

This school operates out of a tiny building and has no playground. The classrooms are very small and are crammed with long wooden benches for the children to sit on. So at lunchtime they line up in the street and sit along the pavement to eat their food.

"We supply wholesome food with all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and required amount of calories," says Das, "But we cater to the local palate. For South India we have rice and sambhar, lentils and vegetables. In North India it's wheat-based so we provide chapatis."

As a result of the scheme, school attendance has gone up; there has been an appreciable increase in the number of girls coming to school and there has been a significant downturn in drop-outs.

It currently costs about 10 US cents to feed a child for a day. "We always feel that we need to make the voice of the hungry children heard," says Das, "$28 dollars will feed a child for a whole year. What a difference it makes for a child!"

"We enhance the value of all the government initiatives," says Das, "If a child does not have food in his stomach how will he utilize all the facilities."(Pictures and story: Shilpa Kanan)

 
 
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