A Mega Kitchen Serves Hot, Nutritious Food to Thousands of School Children in Delhi

By Srinivas Iyer, Gibsonia, PA

One summer evening in Pittsburgh I met Mr. Sanjay Tikku, Trustee and Vice Chariman of Annamrta Foundation, who is doing full-time volunteer work spearheading a mid-day meal project for students of public schools in the suburbs of New Delhi. This single mega kitchen is serving 150 government schools, serving 90,000 children every day. His Pan India organization is serving 1.2 million children per day through twenty mega kitchens in eight states.

I was so intrigued by his determination and enthusiasm that I decided to make a day trip from Mumbai to Delhi during my recent visit to India to get a first-hand experience of his work. I finished my field trip that day, returning to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport on my way back, I was overwhelmed, humbled and completely in awe of the well-oiled project that Mr. Tikku is running.

The mega kitchen he is managing is located in the southwest suburb of Delhi, near Ali Vihar, in a poor section of the city. Once you are inside the compound, it is spic and span, with full attention given to hygiene.

The Delhi school board gives them the menu along with the caloric value for the meals. Hot food is prepared in a timely fashion to feed the approx. 90,000 children daily.

The mega kitchen has its own delivery vans that make sure that the food is delivered on time, rain or shine! Mr. Tikku and his team have fine-tuned the entire process and have mastered the multiple variable logistics with a 100% fail-safe guarantee for delivering the lunches on time!
Mr. Tikku and team have been able to get corporate donors in the initial setup of these mega-kitchens, costing approx. US$2 million. However, the operating cost is only about Rs.2 per child per day!

From L to R: The author; Mr. Sanjeet Sharma, the supervisor; and Mr. Sanjay Tikku.

Mr. Tikku is eager to setup such mega kitchens in rural Bihar and Jharkhand, where the mid-day meal is the key factor to bringing the kids to school. Hence, his dedicated work not only provides nutrition to the next generation of India, but also is a key factor in educating them! This is a project that has implications far beyond that meets the eye.

Corporate funding is being directed to government projects such as swacch-abhiyan projects and hence is not available for the setup of Mr. Tikku’s future NGO mega kitchen projects. A US charity has been established to raise funds to setup these mega kitchens in rural India. Mr. Sanjay Tikku can be reached at: Sanjaytikku5@gmail.com END 


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