Iskcon Akshaya Patra Food Distribution in Bangalore India:
"By seeing Them, one's sins and sorrows are washed away and vanish.
It was also especially wonderful that His Excellency went on to the stage and personally garlanded a life-size murti of Srila Prabhupada, the Guru of ISKCON.
Whilst at the temple, the President unveiled a plaque announcing the upscaling of the famous Food for Life prasadam distribution program of ISKCON Bangalore, known locally as "Akshaya Patra". Currently, this program feeds 50,000 schoolchildren everyday. The government, impressed by the scale, efficiency and effectiveness of the program, has agreed now to assist ISKCON Bangalore to double the program to reach 100,000 children a day. This will mean that once the scaling up of the program hits its target, ISKCON Bangalore will be responsible for distributing a total of almost *** 25 million plates of prasadam a year ***.
The President personally praised the work of the temple in his speech. The following are some excerpts:
"When I entered the temple, the beautiful temple, the divine temple [...], I turned to swami Madhu Pandit Das, and his power to spread the message of spiritualism is very important, is spreading, and particularly giving food, Akshaya Patra really is a very important mission, and I congratulate the Akshaya Patra foundation for the excellent work they have done. [...] And the Akshaya Patra, spread by Swami Madhu Pandit [...], should become Vidya Akshaya Patra (spreading of knowledge)." (His Excellency Sri Abdul Kalam, President of India)
The visit of the President was covered widely by all the major national TV stations and newspapers. The following are some clippings from the media.
THE TIMES OF INDIA
New Delhi, Monday June 9, 2003
Dream, work for reality: Kalam
Bangalore: Interaction with President Kalam was a mixture of science lessons and encouragement for over 200 government and corporation school students at the ISKCON temple. Kalam launched a new scheme to upscale the Akshaya Patra mid-day meal scheme to cover one lakh (100,000) students, through the "Kids for Kids' programme, where rich children sponsor the meal for poor ones. [...] When a student appealed saying: "We have a dream that one day every child in India will be well-fed, well-educated and well looked after" Kalam put the ball in the children's court. "You take food under Akshaya Patra now. When you start earning, you should say, I will give food."
The Hindu - Business Line
Karnataka: Kalam launches meal scheme for poor children
BANGALORE, June 8: TEN-year-old Jayalakshmi from Mahalakshmipuram Government
School will never forget Saturday, June 7, 2003. For, it was on this day
that she had the privilege of being served rice and sambar by none other
than the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. He was inaugurating
the `Kids for Kids' programme, an extension of `Akshaya Patra', a mid-day
meal scheme that now covers about 43,000 poor children in and around Bangalore.
In a rare gesture, the President joined the underprivileged children at
the ISKCON temple in Bangalore to have a meal. The Akshaya Patra Foundation,
initiated by ISKCON, Bangalore, now has several patrons, like the State
Government, the Department of Public Instruction, a few corporate houses
and many individuals who have contributed to its success. The `Kids for
Kids' programme is a new exercise where the urban and more affluent children
will make a donation of Rs 100 per month to Akshaya Patra to support the
mid-day meal scheme for the poorer children. Lauding the efforts of ISKCON,
Dr Kalam said that this was not just `Anna (rice) Akshaya Patra' that ISKCON
is giving to society, but also `Vidya (knowledge) Akshaya Patra, because,
"When you get good food and nutrition, it leads to good education and knowledge
and the process of development of society is speeded up." The Akshaya Patra
programme was started in July 2000 by serving 1,500 children. It then scaled
12,500 children by April 2002 and now has 43,000 children benefiting from
the meal programme. "The programme should reach about 100,000 children
by this year-end," said Swami Madhu Pandit Das, Chairman, Akshaya Patra
Foundation and President, ISKCON, Bangalore. The scheme plans to cover
about 250,000 hungry children by 2005. There are also plans to replicate
the programme in North India to reach out to at least 25,000 children,
according to Swami Chanchalapathy Das of ISKCON, Bangalore.
SUNDAY VIJAY TIMES
8 June 2003
KALAM WANTS MIDDAY MEALS TO REACH ALL
Bangalore: Speaking after launching a new dimension of the Akshaya Patra midday meal programme implemented by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), he said. "Good food makes the children not only concentrate on studies, it also improves their health. Educated and healthy children will lead to a healthy and knowledgeable society". He lauded the endeavour of the Akshaya Patra Foundation and the State Government in successfully implementing the programme across the state.
The President, who struck an instant rapport with the children the moment he entered the ISKCON auditorium, asked them to recite the mantra of creativity along with him. [...] Later, he shared lunch with the children. The Akshaya Patra Foundation provides nutritious food for 43,000 children belonging to 219 schools in and around Bangalore. It has a fleet of 11 custom-built vehicles to transport food to these schools. The Foundation envisages reaching 2.5 lakh (250,000) children by 2005, said Swamy Chanchalapathy Das who made a presentation as part of the programme. The programme was being implemented only in Government schools so as to ensure that it was totally secular. The success of the scheme has drawn wide appreciation from various quarters. The Foundation has decided to spread its activity to some northern states. Initially, 25,000 students would be covered under the proposed programme, added Das.