Akshaya Patra Foundation USA raised nearly $500,000 to help feed underprivileged children at their annual New Jersey Benefit Gala on Saturday, October 6, at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott in Newark, New Jersey.
Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor inspired the more than 400 business, non-profit, government and philanthropic leaders, who gathered for the meet.
The Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty was the chief guest at the gala. Also in attendance were Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, founder and chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, and his wife Dr. Sudha Parikh.
“I have been with Akshaya Patra for the last 10 years since their inception in New Jersey. I feel that this is a great cause not only because it provides a hot meal to children but it also entices them to come to school and receive an education. This is a very good initiative started by Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande and I will continue to support it in the years to come,” Dr. Parikh said, in a statement.
Kapoor also auctioned off his aprons during the event to help those in need.
Vanadana Tilak, the CEO of Akshaya Patra, shared a compelling presentation about the organization and its mission, which is to feed five million children by 2020.
From serving just 1,500 children in five schools in 2000, the organization now feeds about 1.7 million children in 14,125 government schools each day with the help of 5,800 employees in 38 ISO standard centralized kitchens in 12 states in India.
The event also included special guests, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, who serves as the Board Chairman for Akshaya Patra Foundation USA and his wife Jaishree, along with volunteers and co-chairs of the New Jersey Chapter; Dr. Anand Kulkarni, Kiran Kothari, Haresh Patel and Dr. Rachana Kulkarni.
Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest non-profit school meal program and has 19 chapters in the United States.