Mumbai, Oct 3 (IANS) The ISKCON’s Annamrita Foundation launched a weeklong ‘Daan Utsav’ from Gandhi Jayanti to serve free meals to thousands of underprivileged children in Mumbai and other parts of India, a top official said here on Tuesday.
The ‘Fest of Giving’ has reached out to commuters in the vicinity of three Mumbai Metro stations to offer them free high-nutrition ‘khichdi’ and inspire them to donate Rs 450 to cover a year’s free lunch for an underprivileged school child.
“Our aim is no child should be deprived of education due to lack of healthy nutritious meals. We are expecting sponsorship for over 5,000 children through the special camps near Mumbai Metro stations,” International Society for Krishna Consciousness head Radhanath Swami Maharaj told IANS.
This year, the Indian Hotels & Restaurants Association has joined the drive on a long-term basis by putting up banners in 60 restaurants all over Mumbai inviting their customers to embrace the cause.
“Besides the drive at Andheri, Chakala and Sakinaka metro stations, anybody who dines out at these 60 restaurants can make the donation to sponsor a midday meal for one or more child,” said Radhanath Swami.
The Annamrita Foundation started one of the biggest Mid-day Meal projects in Maharashtra in 2004 which has now spread to other states.
Through 20 ISO 22000-2005 Certified kitchens, it provided mid-day meals to 2,500 schools in the state, including 500 municipal schools in Mumbai daily.
The targeted are children coming from families with a monthly income of less than Rs 5,000 and has resulted in reduced dropout rates and better health for the children, said Annamrita Foundation Administrative Officer Radhakrishna Das.
As per the present government policy, mid-day meals are provided only to students from Class I to VIII, but recently, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has partnered with Annamrita to extend it to nearly 5,100 underprivileged students of Class IX and X studying in 17 civic schools there, Das said.
The ‘Daan Utsav’ is expected to generate funds for providing similar facilities for Class IX and X students in Mumbai.