The Tribal Development Department (TDD) supports approximately 6 lakh tribal students studying in 1108 ashram schools and 490 hostels of Maharashtra. Apart from various welfare activities for the tribal communities in Maharashtra, the Government spends substantial amount of funds for their nutritional needs through the daily meal provision. However, the challenge has always been in its delivery. To address this challenge the Tribal Development Department in partnership with Tata Trusts and Akshay Patra has initiated Centralized Kitchen Project called ‘Annapurna’ on pilot basis in English Medium Residential School, Mundhegaon Nashik District and at Eklavya Model Residential School Kambalgaon Palghar District.
Annapurna Centralized Kitchen will be the first of its kind model as a joint venture developed by the Tribal Development Department, Tata Trusts and The Akshay Patra Foundation.
This pilot will be carried out in 29 schools for 12,000 students. One Kitchen has the capacity of catering to 60,000 meals to around 20,000 students’ every day. Meals provided will consist of breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. The residential students will be provided breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner while the day scholars will be provided with lunch and snacks. The meals will be fresh, balanced, flavorsome, nutritious and have been planned keeping in mind the nutritional needs of every age group starting from 1st Std to 10th Std. Quality, quantity and frequency of meals will be the key drivers of this project. To emphasis on its objective of providing nutritious meals, TDD along with its partner the Tata Trusts is planning for impact assessment of the project. The results of the baseline and endline will help the department in further scaling up the project in other schools of TDD in Maharashtra.
The kitchens are owned and will be operated by the existing kitchen staff of the Tribal Department. Akshay Patra Foundation has extended its support as a technical agency in erecting the kitchen, capacity development, procurement, and stabilizing the operations. TDD kitchen staff is trained in the Akshay Patra kitchens at Bangalore for managing the centralized kitchen. For the first five years, managerial support will be provided by Tata Trusts to ensure operations are efficient and smooth. The operating budget for the kitchen will be from the existing budgets allocated by the TDD for these students for food, and hence the model is envisaged to be self-sustaining. The capex, in the form of equipments, is donated by Tata Trusts to these pilot kitchens and it is hoped that the surplus generated from operations will be used for further expansion.
On 10th June 2015, an MOU was signed between Tribal development department, Tata Trusts and The Akshay Patra Foundation for initiating the Centralized Kitchens pilot. The Mundhegaon, Nashik kitchen is inaugurated on September 4 by Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra, Shri Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao in the presence of Hon. Tribal Development Minister Shri Vishnu Savara, and Hon. Water Resources Minister Shri Girish Mahajan.
‘’Ashram schools are residential schools under the Tribal Development Department that enroll Schedule Tribe students. Besides, providing elementary, secondary, and higher education for tribal students in Maharashtra, the centralized kitchen offers an unique opportunity to improve the nutritional status in tribal communities by offering balanced meals every day. By doing so, we can ensure children will enter adolescents and adulthood in a healthy state. Centralized kitchens are a proven way to ensure quality and quantity will not be compromised on. Further centralized kitchens will also offer economies of scale that will lead to better utilization of resources.
“By addressing provision of nutritious meals we are also directly addressing the issue of malnutrition amongst school going children from the tribal communities. In the course of the next two years, given the success of these two projects we will scale up to support our ultimate goal of a Malnutrition free Maharashtra by 2020. In this endeavor UNICEF along with other partners are Tribal Department’s technical partners for its programs” said Rajagopal Devara Secretary, Tribal Development Department.
“Addressing malnutrition is a key priority area for Tata Trusts. We feel privileged to be a part of this project and will extend support in every possible way to scale up the initiative. This collaboration will ensure provision of nutritious meals to children which will eventually result in a healthy lifestyle for generations to come,” said R Venkataramanan, Executive Trustee, Tata Trusts.
“We are glad to partner with Tata Trusts and provide technical assistance for this initiative,” said Madan.R, Chief operating officer, TAPF