GMSP Akshaya Patra UK Kitchen
Even before the coronavirus crisis, another epidemic has been spreading across the UK – hunger.
In 2017, a UN assessment of child health and wellbeing warned that the UK has some of the highest levels of hunger and deprivation among the world’s richest nations. The report concluded that nearly 1 in 5 UK children under the age of 15 suffers from food insecurity – meaning their family lacks secure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. That same year, the APPG report on ‘Hungry Holidays’ revealed that up to 500,000 children in London go hungry during the school holidays, with as many as 3 million children at risk nationwide.
Reliance on food banks is increasing, and due to the lack of affordability of fresh and healthy food families are resorting to cheap and filling alternatives – thus malnutrition and particularly child obesity is on the rise.
We know that children who come from food insecure households are at a disadvantage academically, and that poor diet seriously affects educational performance, attainment and life chances of children. The Education Policy Institute’s 2020 Annual Report on the state of education found the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has stopped closing for the first time in a decade, and COVID-19 is likely to widen this gap further.
We have supported food for children and homeless people for many years, as we feel that hunger and nutrition are core to our values of dignity and shared humanity. We are also long-time funders of Akshaya Patra Foundation in India. As the world’s largest not-for-profit midday meal programme, Akshaya Patra’s 52 zero-waste, self-sustainable kitchens serve a delicious, nutritious hot lunch to more than 1.8 million children in over 19,000 state run schools in India every school day.
"Students from disadvantaged backgrounds deserve to have the same chance to succeed at school as their better-off peers, and that can start with being fed a nutritious meal that will support their education and development."
- Ramesh and Pratibha Sachdev
Our co-founders visited one of Akshaya Patra’s kitchens in Ahmedabad, where they saw first-hand the innovation and distinctiveness of the approach. It applies gravity systems, robotics, AI, blockchain and space technology in how it manages its kitchens, logistics and supply chain. All meals are lab-tested for the macro and micro-nutrient content, ensuring children are receiving optimum nutrition for their age, cognitive and physical development. All its kitchens are zero-waste and self-sustainable.
The speed and scale at which Akshaya Patra can mobilise to feed nutritional meals to schoolchildren in India is what we wanted to bring here to the UK, where poverty and child hunger continue to rise. We are grateful to Akshaya Patra for proving this concept in India first, and the ability to jointly bring this model to the UK.
The GMSP Akshaya Patra Kitchen in Watford launched in October 2020 to serve children at risk of holiday hunger. It provides healthy, hot meals to children in the Watford and London area at a much larger and more cost-effective scale than individual providers, without compromising on high standards of nutrition. The kitchen cooks at least two cycles a day:
one for meals for the homeless (delivering 3,000 free meals/day across Greater London)
one for meals for children during the holidays (reaching a maximum of 5,000 meals/day)
a third cycle can be added to service commercial (social enterprise) clients/private orders