The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in India will partner on enhancing the effectiveness of the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) scheme (earlier Mid-Day Meal Scheme).

An agreement was signed between Bishow Parajuli, representative and country director for WFP in India, and Chanchalapthi Dasa, vice-chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, recently in New Delhi.
“The partnership is a strategic force multiplier bringing deep work and experience together. Since inception in 1961, school meals have been part of WFP’s mission. WFP has six decades of experience supporting school feeding and a trajectory of working with more than 100 countries to set up sustainable national school feeding programmes,” said Parajuli.

“India is strategically important for School Meals Coalition that was launched last year with WFP as a coordinating body, as it implements the largest school feeding programme in the world, providing a nutrition safety-net to school children. India’s excellent track record of school feeding programmes and various associated initiatives can be of interest to other countries,” he added.

“The country has taken strides in achieving food security. The school feeding programme in India has ensured food security for children. With this partnership, we aim to complement WFP’s global network of running large-scale feeding programmes across the world with our expertise in addressing hunger at the grassroots level,” said Dasa.

“We are further looking forward to cross-learning exercise between countries in the region and the global South on the school meals programme to ensure a world where children need not toil before they eat; where children need not earn before they learn,” added Dasa.

Considering their collective experience and expertise in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, this longer-term partnership aims to bridge operational and execution gaps in food safety and hygiene projects, capacities of the cooks-cum-helpers, as well as the nutritional quality of the meals provided.

From knowledge sharing between the two organisations to jointly conducting workshops to showcase the implementation of PM-POSHAN in India, the proposed areas of partnership are likely to include dialogues with the Government to bring forth more policy and strategy-related elements that will enhance the quality of the school meal programme.

The WFP and Akshaya Patra will form a Steering Committee comprising representatives from both organisations, which will meet quarterly to plan, discuss and review various aspects of this collaboration. Both organisations will bring in financial resources as required to support the implementation of the activities