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DePaul fundraises for hungry children in India with awareness dinner

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Young children work on their letters and numbers in a morning class at Dr. Subbarao Polineni's school in Martur, India. India has a high rate of malnourished children and Food for Education aims to get children back into schools. (J.B. Forbes | MCT Campus)

Young children work on their letters and numbers in a morning class at Dr. Subbarao Polineni’s school in Martur, India. India has a high rate of malnourished children and Food for Education aims to get children back into schools. (J.B. Forbes | MCT Campus)


While many DePaul students were tucking into Chartwell-catered dinners, nearly 7,000 miles away children in India toiled away, malnourished and out of school. One DePaul group aims to put the two groups on more equal playing fields.

Food for Education, or Akshaya Patra USA, is a non-governmental organization focused on eradicating hunger in India. The mission of the group is to implement a mid-day meal program in Indian schools. The meals are seen as an incentive for children to stay in school instead of working to eat. The meal then provides them with the possibility to focus on learning and enhance their academic efforts and nutrition.

DePaul’s chapter brings awareness to the issue through quarterly events. This quarter the group organized an awareness dinner where people could come in and donate in exchange for food from an Indian food buffet set up in room 220 of the Student Center. To feed a child costs $31 (USD), and the dinner is one way the group tries to reach DePaul students and help students thousands of miles away.

“Our hope is that if they go to school and get a good education they won’t have to do menial jobs,” Vivek Thakkar, president of DePaul’s chapter, said. “It incentivizes them to go to school.”

Though the group and its chapters largely focus on donating to Indian schools, there are other groups under a similar name and mission that aim to help countries like Bangladesh and Kenya among others.

India is home to nearly 40 percent of the world’s malnourished population. Of the nearly 1.3 billion people in the country, 8.1 million children are out of school and working in order to afford food for themselves and their families, according to the group’s website. Through the work of Food for Education, as well as the collective work of other chapters, the organization has served nearly 11,000 schools.

The DePaul chapter was founded six years ago. They set an annual goal of how many children they want to feed and set up events to cover the costs. The minimum number of students is 100, but they are currently feeding 193 children with hopes of feeding more.

The goal of this quarter’s event was to bring in donations, but also spread awareness of food insecurity and what people can do.

“A lot of people don’t realize the impact this can have on communities,” Carly Klingberg, DePaul student and director of membership, said. “A lot of people have the privilege of not worrying about when they will get food and this event will hopefully bring awareness of that and help us get more members.”

Though the group continues to strive for more membership and their goals, Alicia Patel, who has been involved with the group since her freshman year, said the group has achieved many goals.

“We want to continue to promote the message and spread it to others,” Patel said. “It’s a lot more diverse now, there are a lot of students from other cultures getting involved. We want that to continue.”

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DePaul fundraises for hungry children in India with awareness dinner