Guwahati: Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s new centralized kitchen in Guwahati, Assam. Through this kitchen sponsored by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Akshaya Patra will endeavor to implement the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme in the state. The kitchen has a built-up area of 40,000 sq. ft., and the capacity to prepare 50,000 meals in three hours. Akshaya Patra will initially serve about 40,000 children in 600 Government schools in the region and gradually reach out to more children.
The Chief Guest for the inauguration ceremony was the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal. The guests of honor for the event were Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, who shared a video message, and Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of Education, Health and Finance – Government of Assam. Regional Executive Director of AAI, M Suresh attended the ceremony and spoke on behalf of Arvind Singh, Chairman of AAI. The event was presided by Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice-Chairman of Akshaya Patra. Janardhana Dasa, President of Akshaya Patra – North East Region, was also present on the occasion.
The inauguration event was followed by a tour of the kitchen facility and the symbolic serving of meals to the children. The dignitaries present congratulated Akshaya Patra for successfully completing 20 years and commended the Foundation’s efforts to address hunger and malnutrition through its kitchen network spread across the country.
Speaking on this occasion, Chief Minister of Assam, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal said “The Akshaya Patra Foundation has taken the great program nationwide with commitment and conviction to serve the children by providing nutritious and hygienic mid-day meals. They have established kitchens across India based on best practices and scientific ways of providing hygienic and safe meals. Akshaya Patra’s initiative will definitely make our society mindful of the importance of humanitarian service and motivate people to come forward and take the initiative to work for society. He further added, “I would like to thank my colleague and minister Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma Ji. He took such an important step of bringing Akshaya Patra to Kamrup.”
Minister of Education, Health and Finance – Government of Assam, Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Currently, Assam has 40 lakh students in Government schools. Of these, 50,000 students have the opportunity to eat freshly cooked, nutritious meals from Akshaya Patra. I am highly optimistic that the rest of the students from Assam will also get this benefit in the future.” He also thanked AAI for their support through CSR activities and requested them to continue the noble cause in the future.
In his video message, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation said: “I am truly delighted that today the mechanized centralized kitchen in Guwahati to serve 50,000 meals a day to school children is being inaugurated, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation have contributed about ₹16 Crores for this noble cause.” He further added, “The Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme is one of the important centrally sponsored schemes of the Government of India providing essential nutrients to school-going children up to the middle level. While focusing on improving the nutritional level and attendance, AAI—through this initiative—also aims to address two Sustainable Development Goals – Zero Hunger and Quality Education. With AAI’s support, Akshaya Patra has become a voice that aims to fight vociferously against hunger.”
Arvind Singh, Chairman of AAI, said, “The Airports Authority of India CSR team is taking the lead to serve the society, and to achieve this goal, has collaborated with the NGO Akshaya Patra in creating state-of-the-art kitchens. AAI and Akshaya Patra have taken up the task of providing mid-day meals to more than 2 lakh children by setting up three kitchens in Mangalagiri (Andhra Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam), and Hazaribagh (Jharkhand). Through this CSR initiative, AAI aims to eradicate classroom hunger, reduce malnutrition in school-going children, increase enrolment and attendance in schools, and provide nutritional support to the children at the elementary stage.”
“We are grateful to the Government of Assam for providing us this opportunity to serve the children and for its continued support and encouragement to our mid-day meal initiative in the state for more than a decade. I also want to thank the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for partnering with us to build this kitchen in Guwahati. It will help us serve quality, hygienic, nutritious, and tasty meals to 50,000 children in the region every school day,” said Janardhana Dasa.
Chanchalapathi Dasa said, “We are immensely grateful to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal Ji for inaugurating our new kitchen. Over the last two decades, mid-day meals have played an important role for children to come to school, improve their health and boost their learning capacities. This kitchen will help us reach out to more children in the state and support their health and education. I express my gratitude to the Government of Assam and the Airports Authority of India for supporting this initiative. I also want to thank the Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India, for their continued support to the Foundation’s endeavor to address classroom hunger over the last 20 years.”
Akshaya Patra has been implementing the MDM Programme in Assam since 2010. The new state-of-the-art kitchen dedicated to serving children in Guwahati will be the Foundation’s 56th kitchen in the country. It will follow the highest standards of hygiene, food safety, and quality and enable the Foundation to deliver freshly cooked, nutritious, and tasty meals to more children. Continuing with the practice of serving food in accordance with the local palate, the Foundation’s menu for Guwahati will include rice, mix dal, alu matar, rajma, veg pulao, kabuli chana, khichdi, kheer, and rice cakes (pitha).