Sunday, April 20, 2008
Gravity Force Kitchen
Dateline recently featured a story on school meals in India. I particularly enjoyed the piece on Akshaya Patra's "gravity force" kitchen in Vasanthapura. Hare Krishna restaurants have done a fine job of feeding hundreds of people each day in this city, and are now shipping school lunches to feed 820,000 pupils a day in India.
The kitchen is truly something upon which to marvel. Dry foods, like rice and dhal are kept in silos on the roof and are fed down chutes into cauldrons on a floor below. There is also a food chopping level, where the food is also chuted down to a lower level for cooking. The cooked meals are then chuted a further level where they are wheeled in trolleys to a waiting fleet of vehicles to be delivered to schools within a 50km radius of the kitchen. This kitchen is like something I might have invented in my wildest 10 year old dreams. Except I might've added some employee slides as well.
The school lunch program seems to have successfully combined centralized and individual solutions to feed thousands of hungry school kids. Not every school can employ staff to cook fresh lunches each day. Nonetheless 820,000 kids are eating fresh, healthy meals that would put most Australian school canteens to shame. As Madhu Pandit Das, a Hare Krishna Missionary says, "We definitely feel that there is a divine touch in the food that comes out of these kitchens."
I must say I'm spoiled at my workplace. All school lunches are freshly prepared, and 3 times a week we are served stew, pasta or shepherd's pie with damper and johnny cakes. For the very reasonable price of $2 a meal.
Image from Akshaya Patra: Unlimited Food for Education