Inspired by Akshaya Patra

Inspired by Akshaya Patra



"I've never seen so many vegetables in one place," exclaims Lurdin as she walks past the large trolley at the Akshaya Patra kitchen in Hubli, often referred to as the largest community kitchen in the world. Lurdin and her friends have travelled from the villages of Haliyal to the Hubli kitchen for an exposure visit and to learn about large scale community cooking from leaders in this space. Most of the women belong to the two Community Kitchens that CherYsh launched in January this year.

"The Akshaya Patra training focused on cleanliness. They taught us how to keep our kitchens clean and how to be clean ourselves while cooking," says Ashwini from Kerwada village. The Akshaya Patra kitchens are ISO certified and observe the highest standards of hygiene in their cooking processes. The Hubli kitchen delivers 2 lakh meals a day to students studying in government schools.

The women are awe-struck by the scale of the enterprise and the uncompromising quality standards. During their visit, they see first-hand how the cooks work – and how they dress - a surgeon getting into an operating theatre couldn't be more thoroughly sterilized from head to toe. The women are particularly impressed about "personal hygiene" practices while cooking – the frequent hand washing, the surgical mask that covers the mouth, the cap on the head that tucks in the hair. "They emphasize a lot on cleanliness, they taught how to wash our hands and how to wash the vegetables," says Roopa. Almost all women unanimously agree that the cleaning process is the most impressive learning from the Akshaya Patra kitchen visit.

Interacting with Rajesh, the Coordinator at Akshaya Patra seems to make them believe that the impossible is possible. Here is a kitchen delivering a staggering amount of meals and yet maintaining stringent quality standards – surely their nascent kitchens that are being shaped and molded by the women can borrow some practical hygiene tips from the friendly giant. Not to speak of nutritious recipes. "They're doing very good work. They're providing hot midday meals to students. It will help children learn," says Nelisom as she absorbs the sights and sounds around her and carefully tucks away nuggets she can use in her little kitchen back home.