Two centralized kitchens will be set up in Chennai’s Greams Road and Perambur to cater to the Kalai Unavu Thittam.

Akshaya Patra signs MoU with Chennai Corporation to feed over 27k school children
news Education Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 18:13

The Tamil Nadu School Education Department received a lion’s share of the state budget with Rs 5,935 crore set aside for the mid-day meals schemes alone. The Kalai Unavu Thittam (Morning meal/Breakfast scheme) that was inaugurated last year has gained more steam with the opening of a new centralised kitchen in Chennai.

The bhoomi puja of a centralised kitchen was held at Greams Road in Chennai on Saturday in the presence of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam and Governor Banwarilal Purohit. The Greams Road kitchen will be able to make and serve food for 12,000 children.

The Bengaluru-based Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO that runs mid-day meals in schools across the country, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chennai Corporation to run two centralised kitchens at Greams Road and at Perambur Barracks Road. Rs 5 crore has been set aside from the Governor’s discretionary fund for the kitchen in Greams Road that will feed 12,000 children from 35 corporation schools in the city.

The one coming up at Greams Road is Akshaya Patra’s second kitchen in the city. Akshaya Patra currently serves 5,090 children from 16 schools in the city through its kitchen in Thiruvanmiyur. The centralised kitchen will serve dishes such as upma, idlis, poha, kichri, and pongal, served with sambar on every working day in schools. The third kitchen that will come up at Perambur Barracks Road will feed 15,000 children. 

This year, the Tamil Nadu School Education Department has been allocated Rs 34,181 crore on the whole. This amount is 18% higher than the allocation in 2019-20.

Akshaya Patra, established in 2000, works with different state governments and currently serves 16,856 schools across 12 states and two union territories in India. 

The Foundation, however, has faced controversy with respect to the quality of the food served. In 2018, the CEO of the Zilla Panchayat, Bangalore Urban refused to sign an MoU with Akshaya Patra on the grounds that the NGO did not follow the rules put forward by the State Government. In addition to complaints that the quantity and the quality of the food served were poor, the fact that the Foundation refused to serve onion and garlic in its food items stirred controversy in the state. 

The Foundation, however, denied these claims and maintained that it has been serving nutritious meals compliant with government standards. 

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