There are several advancements in technology that has indeed made our lives easy but how much of these development can benefit society from a three sixty degree view. Technology has indeed made impact interventions but are we able to harness enough to benefit all?
Talking about mid-day meal we can have a distinct view on its applications and benefits. The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is one of the largest free school lunch programme initiated by the Government of India. It is to ensure that children receive nutritious meals and can concentrate on studies rather than on earning a square meal. It is to tackle classroom hunger and promote education. In order to implement this, there are kitchens across the country to run the programme. As these kitchens have to cater to thousands and millions of children every day, they are categorised as centralised kitchens and decentralised kitchens. Centralised kitchens are mechanised kitchens equipped for mass production of mid-day meal and they also act as nodal kitchen for a set of schools in a particular region. This model of kitchens is viable and largely seen in urban areas.
Signs of technological intervention are a sure sight in all the kitchens of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. A walk into any kitchen unit of the Foundation will give a well maintained factory-like feel. A closer look will reveal that it is a kitchen that bustles up every morning to prepare thousands and millions of meal. Right from huge rice cauldrons beginning with 500 litres cooking capacity and dal cauldrons with capacity of 1,200 litres to 3,000 litres of dal, there are mechanised roti making machines that can roll out 200,000 rotis from 6,000 kilograms of wheat flour. Not just for cooking, Akshaya Patra also utilises technology in storage and delivery process. There are cold storages in each kitchen to store ready-to-cook cut vegetables to retain freshness. For delivering the cooked food, the NGO makes use of custom-made insulated vehicles to control temperature loss so that freshness of the cooked meal remains intact till it is served to the children. In order to ensure safety and on-time delivery, methods like logistic charting for route optimization and GPRS are adopted and implemented in the kitchens.
There many more applications of technology that have helped in continuous increase of productivity, enhanced quality and improved service. These interventions have also potentially affected sustainability of each kitchen allowing the Foundation to increase its beneficiary base. Yet, Akshaya Patra continues to explore newer avenues to further advance its capacity of feeding millions of children and move forward in eradicating classroom hunger.
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