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Harvard to study Bangalore's mid-day meal scheme

Feb 04, 2008 01:34 AM IST India India

Bangalore: Harvard graduates have often visited IT campuses in Bangalore but now the country's largest mid-day meal scheme has attracted them.

The largest mid-day meal scheme in the world is going to be studied at Harvard University. The Akshaya Patra Foundation's initiative will soon find mention as a special case study at the Harvard's Business School.

"A team of students and faculty had come and they spent a few weeks to study the entire programme - the logistics the organizations involved the transportation of food, the technological innovation in the kitchen," Madhu Pandit Das, Chairman, Akshaya Patra Foundation, says.

It's the Foundation's efficiency of scale that has impressed the bright minds at Harvard the most. Akshaya Patra set up its first centralised kitchen in 2000 before the courts made the scheme mandatory.

It feeds nearly 8.5 lakh students across the country at a cost of over Rs 100 crore a year, which comes to just Rs four and sixty-five paise per, head.

The Foundation, however, deals with much larger numbers in terms of investment. Each kitchen involves around Rs 8 crore of capital investment and even though corporates keep on pitching in, the funds are drying up.

It is also expanding its network and targeting a billion meals by 2011. And is now roping in corporate India to participate in its dream.

"We have a large section of Indians who do not have the basic wherewithal to make both ends meet. So I do think this is the right time for corporations to commit themselves to much higher levels of corporate social responsibility," NR Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys says.

Despite mechanization, Akshaya Patra's system employs around 150 people per kitchen and in some backward districts it provides the much-needed additional income.

With so many firsts to its credit, Harvard is just another feather in a much-adorned cap.