Vrindavan, 2019.02.12 (VT): On February 11, Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi commemorated The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s ‘3 Billionth Meal’ at an event held at the Foundations’s Vrindavan Centre situated on Chatikara Road.
Joining them were prominent political figures from Uttar Pradesh including Shri Shrikant Sharma (Minister of Power), Shri Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary (Minister – Dairy Development, Religious Affairs, Culture, Minority Welfare, Muslim Waqf and Haj) and Smt. Anupma Jaiswal (Minister of State – Basic Education, Child Development and Nutrition, Revenue and Finance), and Mathura-Vrindavan Mayor, Dr. Mukesh Aryabandhu.
Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa – Akshaya Patra Foundation Chairman, Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa – Vice-Chairman, Shri Mohandas Pai – Independent Trustee, other trustees and officials, and the Presidents of various regions of the foundation were present at the occasion.
The ceremony started with Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi offering a floral tribute to Srila Prabhupada – the inspiration behind Akshaya Patra’s meal program.
Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa welcomed and felicitated the dignitaries.
In his introductory speech, Chairman, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa acknowledged the contribution of the ‘Mid-Day Meal Program’, which gained steam under Former Prime Minister, (Lt.) Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in realizing Akshaya Patra’s mission.
Describing The Akshaya Patra Foundation as the “most successful example of PPP (Public-Private Partnership)”, he thanked the Center and State Government for their constant support.
Akshaya Patra Trustee, Shri Mohandas Pai shared the Foundation’s vision to include ‘Breakfast’ in the meal program and take the number of meals served per day from (present) 17.6 lakh to 50 lakh in five years. He also said that 100 more kitchens will be added to the existing 40 in the same time duration.
To realize this dream in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that his government has released funds for setting up Akshaya Patra kitchens in six constituencies of the state. He congratulated the Foundation on its food distribution service at the on-going Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi then unveiled the commemorative plaque to commemorate the serving of Akshaya Patra’s ‘3 Billionth Meal’.
Addressing the gathering, PM Modi expressed jubilation about the fact that the first Akshaya Patra meal was served during the tenure of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and now, he is getting the opportunity to serve the ‘3 Billionth’ one.
A visit to Gopala’s Land would have been incomplete without the mention of cows and cow protection. Acknowledging Padma Shri Sudevi Mata’s service for Braj cows, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Cows symbolize our culture and civilization. They have always been an integral part of the rural economy.”
Speaking of this year’s budgetary provisions for cow protection, he said that the government has increased the allocation for centrally sponsored scheme ‘Rashtriya Gokul Mission’ to Rs 750 crore for the current financial year from the Budget Estimate of Rs 301.50 crore.
The Mission was started to promote indigenous cattle and buffaloes by preserving their genetic resources in scientific and holistic form, and for continuous growth in the productivity of Indian bovines.
A ‘Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog’ (National Cow Commission) will also be set up to boost cow milk production and for the effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes related to cows. Additionally, people involved in dairy farming and animal husbandry will be able to avail a loan of up to Rs. 3 lakh.
Concluding his talk by congratulating The Akshaya Patra Foundation for their contribution to the Mid-Day Meal Program, Swachha Bharat Mission and numerous disaster relief operations, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi showed his support by serving the ceremonial 3 Billionth meal to school children.
Established in 2000, The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation with its headquarters in Bengaluru. It is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Program serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools (government and government-aided) across 12 states in India through its 40 kitchens.
On February 11, the Foundation celebrated its ‘3 billionth (300 crore) meal’. Around 8000 children and parents from 108 villages have been invited for the program at Vrindavan Akshay Patra. They were joined by 2000 party workers, MLAs and MPs.