Baran kitchen celebrates a decade of service
In 2005, a survey conducted in the Baran district of Rajasthan brought to fore the considerable presence of malnourished children in the area. Since their parents employed as laborers, belonging to the low-income nomadic tribes, were constantly on the move in search of employment, these children were adversely affected. Unfortunately, they had to forgo their education and many a times, were even deprived of their basic daily meals. Hence, the presence of a mid-day meal kitchen was crucial and at the same time felt challenging.
Though, the Akshaya Patra Foundation benevolently willed to start a centralized kitchen unit, the inadequate development and poor road connectivity of the area posed continuous hurdles in the way. That is whenAkshaya Patra team came up with the idea of setting up a decentralized kitchen instead and Baran became the first decentralized kitchen of Akshaya Patra.
Seeking the support and approval of the village Sarpanch (head), Akshaya Patra hired local women to form Women Self Help Groups. The foundation trained these groups on cooking nutritious food, necessary hygiene practices and following food safety measures while preparing mid-day meals for children. This set forth the momentum of service in Baran district in 2005 and Akshaya Patra got marvelous reviews nationwide for its sensibly smart endeavor. This year on April 25, the Baran kitchen celebrated the completion of 10 years of its service to children and women too. It was a celebration of decade long delight, achievement and satisfaction of transforming thousands of lives.
The Baran kitchen was exemplary in terms of service because it not only served meals to children but also engaged women folk as permanent employees. It was observed that many of the school students were the children of the kitchen employees itself. This was a strong factor that motivated the cooks to prepare meals in a hygienic and nutritious way for all the children. The permanency of their job allowed their children to attend school on a regular basis and they no more lived as migrant workers.
Considering the fact that major challenges were part of setting up this kitchen, its awe-inspiring existence for the past 10 years is a testimony of the trust and a fulfilling relationship Akshaya Patra has had with the employees, children and residents of the Baran district. Today Akshaya Patra progressively feeds 9,855 children across 101 Government schools in the region and employs 215 women in its decentralized kitchen. It also provides nutritional support to 1,695 infants across 48 Anganwadi centers in the region.
Kudos to all the employees and supporters at Baran for their unflinching commitment throughout these 10 years of service. The foundation has set an unparalleled example for one and all to actively contribute to the society, which we all are a part of.