Akshaya Patra Tri-State Gratitude Gala raises over $2 million for India’s children

From left, Board members Dr. Anil Kulkarni, Dr. Rachana Kulkarni, Keynote speaker Desh Deshpande,
Dr. Sudha Parikh, and Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media/ITV Gold Dr. Sudhir Parikh, pose for a photo
at the Oct. 7, 2023, Gratitude Gala of Akshaya Patra Foundation USA, held at Newark Airport Marriott,
New Jersey. PHOTO: ITV Gold

The Akshaya Patra Foundation USA’s Tri-state volunteer chapter (apusa.org) raised more than $2 million at its 2023 Annual Gratitude Gala October 7, 2023. The event held at Newark Airport Marriott, was attended by more than 500 business, nonprofit and philanthropic community leaders and professionals.

Executives and volunteers of Akshaya Patra USA, celebrate the success of the Gratitude Gala held October 7, 2023, in Newark, NJ. PHOTO: Akshay Patra

Dr. Rachana Kulkarni, Board Member of Akshaya Patra USA and Chapter Chair for the Akshaya Patra Tri State Chapter shared with the audience the impact of Akshaya Patra’s mission that “No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger.” It is a powerful weapon for underprivileged children to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. She said that with the mid day meal program the kids and their parents don’t have to choose between food & education – they are guaranteed both.

Desh Deshpande, Chairman Emeritus, Akshaya Patra USA. PHOTO: ITV Gold

Well-known philanthropist and Chairman Emeritus of Akshaya Patra Desh Deshpande, in his  keynote speech, spoke of his involvement with the organization which he along with Narayana Murthy, founder-chairman of Infosys, started it decades ago. “I am glad to be back here. I can feel the energy in this room.”

Neeli Bendapudi, president of Penn State University. PHOTO: ITV Gold

President of Penn State University Neeli Bendapudi, in her speech, said she was glad that an organization like

Consul General Randhir Jaiswal. PHOTO: ITV Gold

Akshaya Patra existed. She spoke of the three principles children are made aware of in India are Kamadhenu or the celestial cow; kalpataru – the divine tree of life; and Akshaya Patra meaning an inexhaustible bow providing food. Of the three, the most important was Akshaya Patra, Bendapudi emphasized.

India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal, complimented the achievements of Akshaya Patra, saying, “It’s about addressing food security in a meaningful manner.”

Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, left,with Chairman Emeritus of Akshaya Patra USA Desh Deshpande, at October 7, 2023, Akshaya Patra Gratitude Gala in New Jersey. PHOTO: ITV Gold

Dr. Sudhir Parikh spoke of his association with Akshaya Patra since the US chapter was founded in 2002. “Not only does Akshaya Patra provide a hot meal to a child, but in doing so, it helped uplift a whole family.” He proffered the help of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold for the initiative. He also told ITV Gold about Life Global of which he is chairman, which, like Akshaya Patra, helped underprivileged children, but did so by building schools for them in rural areas of India.

Sarabjeet Gajwani of Akshaya Patra, said he had come all the way from Bangalore to thank supporters in the US. “Thank you for being the wind beneath our wings,” Gajwani said.

All the speakers stressed the impact of education on various aspects of life and businesses and the need for thoughtful philanthropy and the role of Akshaya Patra in that space.

More than 2 million children are provided a hot mid-day meal daily, prepared in Akshaya Patra kitchens. PHOTO: @apusa.org

Deshpande talked about Akshaya Patra’s vision of feeding 5 million children in the near future, and the impact of the generosity on generations to come. He underscored the use of innovation and technology highly mechanized and modern kitchens of Akshaya Patra to ensure safe food delivery to millions of children daily.

Consul General Jaiswal showcased Akshaya Patra as a great example of a successful joint venture between public and private sector in India.

Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, left, with India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Jaiswal,at October 7, 2023, Akshaya Patra Gratitude Gala in New Jersey. PHOTO: ITV Gold

Kunal Sood, founder of We The Planet, noted how Akshaya Patra’s mission was meeting the second most important goal of the United Nations, food security.

“We are very grateful to the Tri-State community for their incredible generosity. The funds raised will help Akshaya Patra continue its mission of unlimited food for education”, said Board Member of Akshaya Patra USA Roopa Makhija,.

Children enjoying a hot mid-day meal at a government school in India. Screenshot 2023-10-13 at 09-54-17 Non Profit Organization in USA Akshaya Patra Foundation USA

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is the world’s largest NGO serving 2.2 million school children in more than 20,000 government schools from 67 state-of-the-art kitchen facilities in 14 states and 2 union territories across India. Akshaya Patra USA is the US branch of Akshaya Patra and raises funds and awareness for the government school midday meal program in India. The Akshaya Patra Foundation USA has volunteer chapters in cities across the United States that holds fundraising and awareness events for the organization.



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