New Delhi: Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal launched The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s Night Shelter Feeding Initiative in the city at an event held at the Delhi Urban Slum Improvement Board (DUSIB) Shelter Complex in Sarai Kale Khan. As a part of this initiative, the Foundation will work with the Government of NCT of Delhi to serve lunch and dinner in 209 night shelters run by the DUSIB. Over 5000 homeless people, which include families, old aged persons, widows/single women, individuals battling addiction, individuals needing medical care, etc., will benefit from the initiative. This number is expected to double during the winter season as more people turn towards the safety of night shelters across the city.
The chief guest for the launch event was the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri. Arvind Kejriwal. The guest of honour was Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development, Shri Satyendar Jain. The event was presided by Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa – Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, and Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa – Vice-Chairman.
The launch event was followed by a ceremonial serving of meals at the shelter complex. The dignitaries present unanimously commended Akshaya Patra for its efforts to address hunger and malnourishment during the COVID-19 outbreak, and expressed their support and encouragement for the Foundation’s efforts.
Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri. Arvind Kejriwal said, “When I visited Bengaluru last time, I had the good fortune of visiting The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s kitchen where I witnessed the preparation of food in a clean and hygienic environment. Today, I am immensely happy that the Government of Delhi and Akshaya Patra have collaborated to start this initiative to permanently feed the people living in night shelters in the city. Our government has always endeavoured to serve the underserved. Today, as I inaugurate this initiative, I want to thank the Akshaya Patra Foundation for serving the society… serving humanity. I hope you will continue your service and grow so that you are able to serve as many more as possible.”
Shri Satyendar Jain, Minister for Urban Development, said, “Today marks the beginning of Akshaya Patra’s initiative to feed around 6,000 people living in the 209 shelters in the city run by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) for free of cost. When the COVID-19 pandemic started a year and a half ago, our Chief Minister, Shri Arvind Kejriwal Ji passed an order to provide two square meals a day to all the homeless people living in the shelters run by DUSIB. Since then, we have been providing food at these shelters. I am grateful to Akshaya Patra for taking over this responsibility now. Akshaya Patra is not just serving 6,000 homeless in these shelters, but also providing meals to over 3,000 labourers at various construction sites. I want to thank Akshaya Patra for the same. They have also assured us that they will double the feeding capacity in winters when there is a rise in the number of people turning towards shelters for relief from the harsh cold.”
Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa said, “We are immensely grateful to the Hon’ble CM of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal Ji for launching the Night Shelter Feeding initiative today. Under his able leadership, the Government of Delhi is doing a remarkable job at ensuring that the basic needs of the vulnerable are addressed in these times of adversity. I also want to thank Shri Satyendar Jain Ji and the Delhi Urban Slum Improvement Board (DUSIB) for
their support to the Night Shelter Feeding Initiative, which will enable us to reach out to the thousands of homeless in the city.” He further added, “We have served over 1 crore meals to people in need in Delhi NCR since last March; courtesy, the collaborative efforts of everyone involved. The new initiative will help us specifically reach out to the homeless who take shelter in these facilities provided by the Government. I once again extend my deepest gratitude to the Government, corporate partners, individual donors, motivated volunteers and all our well-wishers for enabling us to serve people in these difficult times through their sustained support.”
Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa said, “We are immensely grateful to the Government of Delhi and Chief Minister, Shri Arvind Kejriwal ji for their continued support to Akshaya Patra’s endeavours, be it the school feeding programme or food assistance initiative. Akshaya Patra is conscious of its responsibility towards society. We have always strived to assist the Government’s efforts to bring relief to people during emergencies. We will continue with this as long as we can.” He further added, “I also want to thank the Government of India for their continued support to our various feeding initiatives over the years. With the support of the Central Government and State Governments, we have been able to provide food assistance to millions of people from vulnerable communities in these times of adversity.”
Since March 2020, Akshaya Patra has been working with the Government and donors to extend food assistance to vulnerable populations, such as daily wagers, migrant labourers, etc., affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year in March, when the Government of Delhi had started Hunger Relief Centres in the city to help the vulnerable populations, Akshaya Patra partnered with the Government to extend food assistance. Night Shelter Feeding Initiative is a new programme launched by the Foundation to feed people who take shelter at the facilities provided by the administration. These night shelters are open for anyone in Delhi who otherwise cannot afford to have a roof over their head at night. While some of these shelters are pakka (regular) buildings, others have been created by converting shipping containers into shelters.
As a part of its overall relief feeding efforts, Akshaya Patra has cumulatively served over 16.1 crore meals to vulnerable populations across 20 states and one UT as of 30 July, 2021. In Delhi and NCR, the Foundation has served over 1.26 crore meals, which include over 63 lakh cooked meals, 1.32 lakh essential grocery kits [amounting to 55 lakh meal servings], over 17,000 Happiness Kits [amounting to 3.41 lakh meal servings] and 3,444 Family Happiness Kits [amounting to 4.13 lakh meal servings].