Behind the Scenes: The Kitchens at Isha Vidhya
Midday meals have been a phenomenal success at Isha Vidhya schools. Not only have parents appreciated this facility but it has contributed tremendously in building the health of students. Many Isha Vidhya students come from poor families and so suffer from malnutrition and anemia. The midday meals go a long way in providing a well-balanced nutritional diet at a subsidized cost to our students. We bring you a rare behind-the-scenes look at the kitchens that provide this essential service.
All our school kitchens have four staff members: one cook, one supervisor and two helpers. At the time of recruitment, preference is given to Isha volunteers. Sadhguru says, “Being a volunteer simply means that you are willing.” This means being willing to do whatever is required without filtering it through your likes and dislikes. This attitude of the staff ensures that a nutritious meal is available for the children no matter what the circumstances.
Work in kitchen starts at 8.30 in the morning and ends at 11.45 am. The menu for the ensuing week is planned on Saturdays. The kitchen has a rotary list of 17 varieties of rice, so each variety is repeated only after 17 days. These variations include sambhar rice, dhal rice, green gram rice, soya biryani, carrot rice, beetroot rice, and coconut rice.
The kitchen supervisor, who is on the spot daily, ensures that the kitchen staff maintain personal hygiene, wear a cap and apron at all times and always clean their hands before cooking.
The school-wise monthly requirement of groceries is sent to the admin executive, Mr. Daniel Jagaraj who works from our Coimbatore office. This list is sent on 24th of each month and the required groceries reach the respective schools on or before 28th. Each school ties up with local vegetable vendors for their requirements of vegetables, curry leaves, coconuts etc. Based on the menu for the next day’s meal, the vendor is informed about the requirement of vegetable, curry leaves and other perishable goods by evening, which he delivers by 7.30 am at the school. Activities like ordering of vegetables, preparing the groceries list etc are taken care of by the kitchen supervisor.
It is important to maintain stock records and this is done very meticulously. Every Saturday, stock record of available groceries is maintained by the supervisor. On a daily basis, the groceries required for the next day’s meal is packed and kept aside based on the menu for the day. The utensils are generally cleaned by helpers and sometimes by kitchen supervisor or cook depending on who is available.
With the numbers of students increasing in the schools, it is becoming difficult to chop the vegetables manually and still meet the serving deadline. Isha Vidhya has been trying to equip the kitchens with vegetable cutting machines but so far we have managed to raise funds only for the kitchens in the Erode and Nagercoil schools. If you’d like to contribute towards this, please write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.