With a $441,264 grant from the Caterpillar Foundation, Akshaya Patra’s school feeding program and the centralized kitchens in India received a generous helping hand.

This Caterpillar grant will be used to fund a briquette boiler for the kitchen in Guwahati, Assam. As part of its efforts to institute environmentally friendly practices in all its operations, Akshaya Patra is replacing its diesel-fueled boilers with briquette boilers. The briquettes are made of groundnut husk or rice bran and will not leave a carbon footprint. The funds will also be used for six oil tanks to store more than 2,000 gallons of oil at each of the six centralized kitchens in Bellary, Hubli, Baroda, Gandhinagar, Bangalore and Vrindavan. Additionally, the funds will be used to purchase kitchen equipment for midday meal preparation for 46,000 children in 434 schools at Puri in Orissa.

Akshaya Patra delivers school lunches at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world. It costs Akshaya Patra only $15 to feed a child for an entire year. This meal gives these children an incentive to come to school, stay in school and provides them with the necessary nutrients they need to develop their cognitive abilities to focus on learning. The organization also sources its food stocks from local markets, thereby reducing costs associated with transportation and food spoilage while supporting the local economy. After reaching its initial goal of feeding one million children each school day, Akshaya Patra’s next milestone is to serve five million children daily by 2020. “We are delighted to forge this partnership and assume collective responsibility to provide and help those in need”, stated Madhu Sridhar, President and CEO of Akshaya Patra USA.

“Caterpillar is proud to support this important project to help school children in need of proper nourishment,” said Ganesh R. Iyer, general manager of Caterpillar India-Hosur. “By taking care of the hunger, we are fueling the bodies and minds of the children.”