The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF), a Bangalore-based non-governmental organization (NGO), has been hailed globally for running the world's largest school meal program. It operated through 16 centralized and 3 decentralized kitchens across 9 states of India; it states its Mission 2020 as being able to reach out to 5 million children by 2020. The challenge that the foundation faces in achieving its stated mission is not only of scaling up by 2020, but also of maintaining the economic sustainability of its operations in view of increased government spending on alternative social sector schemes such as Right to Food, which may reduce or limit allocations to the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme. The case aims to study the critical challenges that Akshaya Patra faces in sustaining its operations and the several sustainability initiatives undertaken by the NGO to meet the various challenges it faces and the opportunities that it could further take to innovatively fulfil its mission of feeding 5 million children daily by 2020. It looks at the interrelations between the different dimensions of sustainability and uses frameworks to assess these sustainability initiatives at Akshaya Patra.
Besides introducing the basic tenets of sustainability and its growing importance in critical business decisions, the case looks at sustainability holistically and explains the roles of the value chain and the business model of an organization in driving sustainability with a focus on business process innovation. The case shows the opportunities in innovation for enterprises looking for sustainable growth and the role of compliance with sustainability norms as a tool to identify opportunities for economic and other forms of sustainability.