Akshaya Patra Bay Area holds fundraiser

“Our work has gotten harder in the last few years but we know that hunger is solvable,” said Barron Segar, President and CEO, World Food Program (US) in his keynote at the Bay Area chapter of Akshaya Patra fundraiser held on September 23 at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame. The World Food Program USA supports the mission of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) to end hunger globally.

Segar described the global scale of hunger and malnutrition in conflict zones and the rising challenges due to climate change and COVID-19. He emphasized the multiplier effect of free and nutritious school meals in feeding children while keeping them in school and helping families.  

Akshaya Patra’s extensive NGO school meal program in India operates 66 kitchens and works with fifteen state governments and two union territories. It serves nutritious mid-day meals to over two million kids in 23,000 government-run schools, six days a week.

Akshaya Patra partners with Share Our Strength

Akshaya Patra held a gala in partnership with Washington DC-based non-profit Share Our Strength, to raise around a million dollars to support its mid-day meal program. Several Michelin Star-rated chefs served culinary delights at live food stations at the event. 

Share Our Strength raises and grants more than $600 million to fund programs designed to help vulnerable children and families in the U.S. Akshaya Patra is Share Our Strength’s first major partner outside the United States. “Akshaya Patra is an extraordinary partner,” said Jeetu Jodhpurkar, Managing Director, International Strategy, at Share Our Strength.

Share Our Strength has pledged to help Akshaya Patra feed one million more children across India over the next five years. They plan to adopt successful practices for fundraising, brand-building, and cultivating relationships with donors. 

The non-profit’s partners co-hosted a large tasting event earlier this year in Nagpur that featured some of the city’s top restaurants, chefs, and mixologists.

“Everyone wants to contribute, but they don’t know if the opportunity is there,” said Sanjeev Kapoor, one of India’s most influential chefs and a partner in the Share Our Strength work. “The will is there among chefs to help, we just need the opportunities.”

India’s Malnourished Children

“India has the largest number of undernourished children in the world. While India has been rising, not everyone has been rising. The bottom quartile of India is dependent on informal income, which was hit hard during COVID-19. Akshaya Patra has done an incredible job. Their kitchens are run efficiently and provide delicious meals catering to local tastes,” said Sumer Chadha, MD Of Westbridge Capital.

Westbridge Capital funded Akshaya Patra’s Varanasi Kitchen in Uttar Pradesh and continues to fund the operational cost of feeding 25,000 children daily. The kitchen provides mid-day meals to 100,000 students within a radius of 40 kilometers of the kitchen.

Women-run kitchen 

In April this year, Akshaya Patra opened its first-of-its-kind, women-run community kitchen in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh. It provides meals for 5000 children. Women make up 80% of the workforce and gain financial independence, decision-making power, and technical skills.

“AkshayaPatra gets Indian government support which is both a validation of their mission and helps with the scale at which they want to run,” said Gagan Hasteer, VP of Engineering at Netflix. He funded the Barsana kitchen in memory of his parents. Hasteer was pleased with how Akshaya Patra involved him and his family in the process and plans to visit the Barsana kitchen in November.

Akshaya Patra’s Bay Area youth volunteers raised $30,000 via the sale of handicrafts, Spanish teaching, walkathons, and other activities last year. The non-profit honored six young volunteers who won Presidential Service Awards for their service and support at the function. It offered a special tribute to Arnav Aggarwal, a youth volunteer who lost his battle with cancer this year.

Shalini Kathuria Narang is a Silicon Valley based software professional and freelance journalist. She has written and published extensively for several national and international newspapers, magazines...