Case Study: For many children, this is their only for the day, writes Madhurya Shroff

The Annamrita Foundation (formerly known as ISKCON Food Relief Foundation) is a Non-Governmental Organisation that implements the Midday Meal Project of the Government of India from its 19 state-of-the-art centralized kitchens in six states and the national capital. The organization serves about one million meals during lunch break to 6193 government-aided & non-government aided schools in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Delhi every day.

It all began with the dream of Srila Prabhupada, the Founder of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) who wanted that no one around the ISKCON temple should go hungry. And thus, in 2004, a humble beginning was made to serve meals to those who couldn’t afford it from the Chowpatty centre of ISKCON. The initiative spread to other centres with time. In the last 15 years, various branches of ISKCON FRF, now Annamrita, have served over three billion meals.

Annamrita believes in providing children with the right nutrition to support their education and help in their growth. Our program is based on the belief that ‘you are what you eat’. Therefore, one nutritious meal prepared with compassion and love, the way a mother would prepare a meal for her child, brings thousands of children to school daily. The children look forward to receiving these hot, nutritious, wholesome and delicious meals served each day.

Great care is taken to maintain hygiene during the cooking process and towards packing in maximum nutrition in each meal. Every state has its own menu set by the Government. The Maharashtra kitchens prepare rice-based meals like different types of khichdi, dal-rice and usal bhat while the North Indian states serve wheat-based meals such as roti-sabji and puri- bhaji. Separate menu is planned for every day of the week to ensure that the kids get a variety and look forward to the meals during recess. The Government provides the rice or wheat, as the case may be, to the Foundation. In order to cover the gap between costs and the cooking charges received from the Government, the Foundation raises donations from corporate and individual donors and social institutions like the Rotary and Lions Clubs and other Trusts and Foundations.

Madhurya Shroff

Trained cooks and delivery staff ensure that the meals are delivered hot and reach schools well in time before the recess timings. Insulated food grade steel containers that are sealed every day, each having a capacity of about eight kgs are used to transport these meals from our kitchens in Tardeo, Mira-Bhayander, Palghar, Nigdi, Wada, Aurangabad, Gurgaon, Delhi, Faridabad, Kurukshetra, Palwal, Tirupati, Nellore, Rajahmundry, Kadapa, Ranganara Gadda, Jamshedpur, Jaipur and Kolkata to the schools. Most of the children we serve come from slums and tribal areas and at times, this is the only and main meal of the day for them.

Annamrita Foundation was declared the leading organization in the sphere of child health with an outstanding contribution in the area of Nutrition at the first ever Lifebuoy National Child Health Symposium and Awards.

It has also received the D.Y. Patil Annual Achievers Award as the best organization working in the social field, the Platinum Certification for Transparency and Public Accountability from Guidestar, India, Certificate of Merit for Social Cause and Empowerment by India's Most Ethical Companies Group, and Certificate of Merit for IMC Ramkrishna Bajaj National Quality Award.So, why am I writing this? To assure you that your one act of kindness can save a child’s health and life; that what we ask for is not a huge amount but something you can afford to transform a child’s future; that you can be a catalyst in taking the idea of humanity ahead. All you need to donate is Rs 750 for one child for the entire year. We are sure you can extend a hand of support. We are waiting.