The Akshaya Patra Foundation collaborates with the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) to form “The Akshaya Patra Research Lab”. First of its kind lab run by a, not for profit in-country and an academic institution, aims to conduct comprehensive studies in the areas such as child food security, community participation for social welfare, elimination of malnutrition, policy development, and advocacy for battling hunger.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been effortlessly working towards providing nutritious food in the last 18 years.
Being the implementing partner of the government of India’s school lunch programme, the organization has been instrumental in reforming policies pertaining to the scheme, improving the nutritional value for the beneficiaries under the programme. The programme has a direct impact on the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 4, 5, and 7, which are also the priority of the Government of India.
As the Foundation scales in the nutrition and food security space, the focus on research is imperative. In partnership with the academic strength of the Indian Institute of Science, the Foundation aims to develop a knowledge epicentre with think tanks consisting of economists, philanthropists, research scientists, government officials, and global institutes for building its efforts towards global advocacy and ending classroom hunger and malnutrition.
Established under The Centre for Society and Policy (CSP) at IISC, the partnership has so far resulted in an evidence-based research study & published papers on Vaccine hesitancy analysis; Covid-19’s impact analysis on a child’s education and nutrition, psychology study of school children, water-food-energy nexus, and assessing human security crisis.
Some of the long terms plans of the lab include: Impact assessment of Mid-Day Meals and developing a socio-human model to build scenarios that can cause positive social impact at a larger scale.
Speaking about the partnership Prof. Anjula Gurtoo, Chair, The Centre for Society and Policy at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, said, “At IISC, we are constantly in pursuit of excellence in research and innovation to ensure India’s social welfare. Partnering with The Akshaya Patra Foundation offers us yet another opportunity to serve the country by using research-backed methods to eradicate classroom hunger from the grass root levels. The young team consisting of some of our brightest PhD scholars, professors and project associates is dedicated to working towards child’s food security policy development and advocacy. The timing could not have been more accurate considering the pandemic’s multifold impact on health and nutrition.”
Talking about the need for increased research effort in child nutrition, Mr Shridhar Venkat, CEO, The Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “The pandemic did not only change how kids learned and played but also how they consumed nutritious meals. While we continuously worked to provide access to nutrition, there is an immediate need to scale our efforts and further the cause of hunger eradication.”
He further added, “Our R&D efforts have gotten stronger over the years, and through this academic partnership with IISC, we are pleased to scale it further. Together, we look forward to creating a country where the journey of realizing a hunger-free India: where children need not toil before they eat, where children need not earn before they learn. Thus the focus on research is imperative than ever before.”
The Akshaya Patra Research Lab’s Advisory Board consists of the following well-known experts:
- Dr Dinesh Kumar Bharadwaj – Scientist ‘G, ICMR- National Institute of Nutrition
- Mr Dola Mohapatra – Executive Director, Rise Against Hunger India
- Dr Elisabeth Eppinger – Professor, Sustainability, HTW Berlin
- Ms Meghna Narayan – Co-founder Slurrp Farm
- Prof. Rajib Shaw – Professor, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University
- Dr Rebecca Kuriyan Raj – Head of Division of Nutrition, St. John’s Research Institute, India
- Ms Ruchika Chugh Sachdeva – Nutrition Lead, India Country Office at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Dr Rupal Dalal – Associate Prof, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)
- Dr Seema Puri – Associate Professor, Food & Nutrition at Institute of Home Economics, DU & VP – Dietetic Association
- Dr Prakash M Halami – Chief Scientist & Professor AcSIR; CSIR-CFTRI (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research–Central Food Technological Research Institute)