At the Tehara School in Vrindavan, a small city in northern India, the children break off their studies at mid-day for a meal of roti, lentil stew and bananas.
The meal comes from Akshaya Patra, a nonprofit foundation that provides hot, nutritious and tasty lunches in schools across India. Today, Akshaya Patra feeds two million children every day at over 23,000 schools, making them one of the largest providers of school meals in the world.
But that incredible figure is overshadowed by the sheer number of children in India who are at risk of not getting enough to eat; Akshaya Patra is reaching only a fraction of the kids who need them.
That’s why Share Our Strength chose Akshaya Patra as our first major partner outside the United States. We’ve pledged to help them feed one million more children across India over the next five years.
To do that, we’ve helped them adapt some of our successful models for raising money and engaging the local community, co-hosting a large tasting event in Nagpur that featured some of the city’s top restaurants, chefs and mixologists, as well as attracting corporate sponsorship. The event was such a success that Akshaya Patra was able to fund a new kitchen that will prepare meals for schools across central India.
And, as we know from our No Kid Hungry campaign here in the United States, events like this do more than raise funds. They galvanize the public, as well as business leaders, elected officials and the culinary community. “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 our work. “The will is there among chefs to help, we just need the opportunities.”
By helping local partners like Akshaya Patra create those opportunities, we’re sharing our strengths – like innovative fundraising strategies, brand-building and cultivating relationships with donors – but also respecting theirs as leaders and experts who understand their own community’s strengths and needs.