We organized a visit to Akshaya Patra Foundation on 27th October 2018. It is a non-profit organisation in India that runs school lunch programme across India. Akshaya Patra was established in 2000. It has its kitchens in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Chattisgarh and many places in India. It has its largest kitchen in Bangalore and the second largest in Ahmedabad.
The kitchen starts functioning from around 5.30 am everyday. With an aim to learn about the automatic cooking process of mass production, we reached there around 5.30 am. We were warmly welcomed by the officials of Akshaya Patra Foundation. They gave us brief information about their organisation, their aim and how they have been constantly striving to achieve it. The tour was about to start before which we were given shoe and hair covers to wear before entering the area.
The kitchen is structured in such a way to exploit the force of gravity. It has 3 floors. On the top floor the rice, dal and vegetables are washed and and then through a channel it is passed to the second floor where they are cooked in huge capacity drums. All the spices used in the cooking vegetables and dal is also poured from above.
All the machines and vessels that they use are designed and manufactured in India. On the second floor, they also have the machine to make idlis for breakfast and a bakery where they bake biscuits, cookies and cupcakes for the children. None of the items baked is made using white flour but only wheat flour in order to maintain the nutrients. From the second floor, the cooked rice, dal and vegetables would come to the ground floor through the channels.
On the ground floor, rice and dal would be finally be ready and would be filled in the packaging containers. They own a flour kneading machine from which the kneaded flour is transferred to a machine after which it is pressed and a sheet of the flour is made. It is followed by making circular cuts for rotis and then the sheet is passed over the flame to roast. The rotis are then roasted on the other surface. Finally, it is sprayed with oil and collected.
The food items which are ready are then packed in containers and then transferred to trucks for dispatch. The temperature of the food is maintained such that the children can have it at around 62 degree Celsius. Also, the nutrition value of the food is strictly taken care of. As students from technical field, it was an incredible experience to watch a simple a process like cooking being carried out in such an inconceivably massive scale with full automation. They have truly exploited the boons of technology for such a noble cause. Following the kitchen tour, we got a chance to explore the huge campus early during sunrise. It was a great experience visiting Akshaya Patra Foundation. Everyone was grateful for this opportunity to know how the world’s largest NGO-Run Mid-Day Meal programme is carried out.