Positioning and launching a highly respected Indian charity for its foray into addressing food poverty in the UK through the provision of hot nutritious vegetarian meals to schoolchildren in the Southeast of England and Greater London area and project managing its evolving new provision.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation UK (TAPF UK) is a registered UK charity, established in 2011 to raise funds and awareness for its flagship Food for Education programme in India, where it is the world’s largest NGO of its kind, and now serves 2 million children freshly prepared, hot, nutritious meals at school daily.
Following nearly a decade of fundraising in the UK and ongoing operational delivery in India, it became aware of the escalating issue of food insecurity and malnutrition among children and other vulnerable groups in the UK. In partnership with the GMSP Foundation, it opened the foundation’s first kitchen outside of India in Watford, UK. Its goal was importing and repurposing two decades of learning and expertise from India to tackle hunger and bolster the development of children in Greater London and Hertfordshire.
The organisation not only faced challenges in adapting to local regulations, processes, and dietary preferences in the UK, but also challenges regarding its name and assumed “third world” origins in engaging with a new region in broad denial of food insecurity and poverty on its own doorstep. Obviously, some of this resistance was based on false assumptions about an Indian initiative with their roots in the UK's colonial past.
In the first instance, PROJECTile was tasked with getting the UK Kitchen up and running in terms of governance, documentation, licensing, due diligence, communications and processes and infrastructure to ensure best practices were in place. PROJECTile was also tasked with ensuring the initial UK project was robust and built with agility to ensure the kitchen could scale up with the speed and integrity, qualities the foundation has long demonstrated in India.
Alongside this piece of work, PROJECTile’s Erika Loch supported the CEO and the board of the charity in strategic planning and building and mentoring the growing team, assisting the organisation to broaden its skills to address their new UK audience. The second part of the work involved building the foundations for a marketing strategy for its UK programmes, looking beyond its initial Nourish to Flourish initiative.
As a result of the hand-in-hand collaboration with the foundation’s board, the kitchen opened on time and received 5-star ratings from the local EHO authority, and secured partnerships with three local authorities and dozens of Holiday Clubs as part of the government’s launch of the HAF Programme, delivering over 50K hot, nutritious vegetarian meals in the summer of 2021 to over 50 locations. The foundation received top-rating reviews for its service and food, and has supported and grown its HAF provision since then, reaching more and more children.
The story so far…
Having effectively stewarded the organisation’s transition from fundraiser to operator, and facilitating establishing TAPF UK as a major contributor to child nutrition in the UK, the initial remit was extended. It has since traversed into the area of partnerships, encompassing corporate, charity, trusts and foundations, community, and government partnerships, among others.