Akshaya Pātra USA

Unlimited food for education

Youth Supporter: Raigon Wilson

Coming to Bengaluru, India to intern with TAPF was not only my first international work experience, but my first big international trip ever, and it could not have been more fulfilling. I was awarded a fellowship through Cultural Vistas, who handled most of the logistics of going overseas. They sent an intern to TAPF last year, and after speaking with her and reading about the organization, I knew this would be the perfect place for me to spend my summer. I study nutrition and am passionate about issues of hunger and food insecurity. I hoped that by interning with TAPF, I would be able to exchange knowledge on these topics and work on something meaningful to help the organization in its efforts to provide Mid-Day Meals (MDM) to children.

My first few weeks at TAPF were spent learning more about the organization’s scope of work and getting acclimated to a new country. The first project I was assigned involved assessing the current MDM Program menus and suggesting areas for improvement. With this assignment, I became familiar with the typical South Indian diet based on pulses and rice, the nutritional parameters for MDM as set by the government, and the purchasing and production capacity of TAPF. Upon completing my menu evaluations, I was connected with the Research and Development department, with whom I spent the remainder of my internship.

              I was tasked with researching NUS, Neglected and Underutilized Species, and writing a proposal rationalizing their use in the MDM Program. This was probably my favorite assignment because it introduced me to the concepts of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture and how these practices can be used to eradicate global hunger. Consequently, I am interested in studying global food systems and biodiversity as a part of my postgraduate work. After submitting the NUS proposal, I worked on documents to be used by The Advanced Child Development Research Centre, a branch of the department. It was exciting to see this new entity grow, and I enjoyed having input in The Centre’s goals because the work they propose to do is integral to TAPF’s success and the betterment of children’s futures.

Interning at TAPF has been such a transformative experience. I learned so much about the MDM Program, food insecurity, and other children’s issues in India. I worked on social research – something I have never had the opportunity to do before. I discovered a new interest and gained insight on what I’d like to do post-graduation. Most importantly, I connected with great people at an internationally renowned NGO. My only critique would be that the general orientation I initially received was lengthy, and irrelevant for me and the other interns. 

My supervisor entrusted me with a lot of projects and gave me the tools I needed to produce quality work. As a result, I’ve been extended an offer to continue my work with The Research Centre, and I will be a remote member of the Research and Development team for the next nine months. This is something I could have never expected, but I am incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities TAPF has opened for me and will bring in the future.