Learn more about Akshaya Patra’s UK meals programme.


As a response to the growing problem of food poverty in the UK, we opened Akshaya Patra’s first-ever international kitchen in north London in 2020, from which more than 700,000 meals have since been served to disadvantaged children and their communities.

The London kitchen, located in Watford, is founded on the same principles and learnings of our facilities in India and operates to the highest standards of food quality and safety, as evidenced by our five-star Food Standards Agency hygiene rating. Our well-trained cooks – supported by dedicated volunteers – work hard to freshly prepare hot, healthy and nutritious vegetarian meals for children to enjoy, within as short a cook-to-consumption window as possible.

In addition to serving long-standing staples of Akshaya Patra’s India kitchens like curry or daal with chapati or rice (generally with a little less spice!), the UK organisation has developed several other delicious recipes to suit British tastes, including filled jacket potatoes, pasta dishes, and vegetarian shepherd’s pie or lasagne. These main meals are often supplemented by fresh fruit and our healthy carrot cake (an Akshaya Patra UK speciality!).

Our work in the UK is focused on providing nutrition to children through three core education-linked programmes, which you can learn more about below. However, we also support university students, the homeless, the elderly, and other members of our communities who are struggling to eat well amid challenging economic circumstances.


Here in the UK, despite living in one of the richest countries on the planet, 4.2 million children live in poverty. This equates to three in every ten British children facing a level of hardship which not only affects immediate life experience during their formative years but also has a longer-term impact on their health, wellbeing, and financial prospects. Almost a quarter of British households with children, meanwhile, are living in a state of food insecurity.

As for academic achievement, studies show that there is major educational inequality deeply embedded in the UK education system, with the attainment gap between poorer and less disadvantaged students having seen zero improvement in the last twenty years.

Young people who are eligible for free school meals are still around 27% less likely to earn good exam results than their better off peers. Today’s educational inequalities become tomorrow’s income disparities, entrenching our children in a poverty that stalks them as they grow up to have a family of their own.


The school holidays should be a happy time for all our children, full of care-free fun with friends and loves ones. But, for families living in hardship, the holidays can be a time of increased struggle and financial stress. Parents with lower incomes find it even more difficult to feed and look after their children during holiday periods, due to the absence of free school meals and the need to incur extra childcare costs.

It is estimated that up to 3 million children in the UK are at risk of holiday hunger and that the loss of free school meals during the holidays costs a family between £30 and £40 per week in additional outlays.

Akshaya Patra UK’s Holiday Hunger Programme is aimed at alleviating this significant burden on poorer families. We partner with holiday club providers across Greater London during the Easter, Summer and Christmas breaks to serve children who are attending holiday clubs with healthy and nutritious meals.

The food we provide gives children the energy to make the most of their holiday club experience, which is filled with lots of enriching and educational activities – from arts and crafts to games and sports. And, beyond this opportunity for laughter, learning and a nourishing meal, Akshaya Patra’s partnership with holiday clubs reduces pressure on family budgets and relieves the heavy load carried by hardworking parents.

We are pleased to deliver this programme in partnership with both holiday club providers and local authorities, with the support of the UK Government’s ‘Holiday Activities and Food’ (HAF) scheme.


Homework is an important part of the learning framework in most schools. It requires children to work independently and problem-solve, to manage and organise their time, and to take responsibility – alongside their parents or carers – for their part in the educational process. It also helps embed learning from recent lessons and prepare students for upcoming classes. Despite homework’s key role in the education system, though, not all children are receiving the support they need to do well with their out-of-school exercises.

For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, homework is yet another issue which can exacerbate social injustice and inequality. Barriers to children doing well with their homework can include living in noisy or cramped conditions; not having a suitable surface to write on; being unable to afford stationery, textbooks, devices, access to the internet, or even the support of a tutor; and having parents or carers who lack the confidence, time, or inclination to assist and encourage them. The outcome of this is that poorer children experience reduced educational opportunity and achieve lower levels of attainment.

Akshaya Patra’s Hot Meals and Homework Programme is designed to reduce the levels of inequality children experience with their homework whilst simultaneously supporting their levels of nutrition. We work with schools to organise after-school clubs, at which we provide healthy meals as a powerful incentive for children to stay behind after the formal school day has ended.

Children who attend our after-school clubs can enjoy some tasty food, while their dedicated teachers go the extra mile to supervise and support the completion of their out-of-school exercises. As a result of this initiative, poorer parents are not only helped by the dual-advantage of their children receiving an additional free meal and getting expert assistance with their studies, but there is also the side-benefit of some additional, cost-free childcare for busy working mums, dads and carers.


When the world was faced with pandemic lockdowns, Akshaya Patra was determined – both in the UK and India – to continue supporting children with good nutrition and educational support, despite the fact the doors of schools and other community institutions were shut.

And so, we rapidly reinvented the way in which we delivered our work, giving birth to Akshaya Patra’s Happiness Box. Such was their positive impact on the lives of those we serve, Happiness Boxes are something we continue to provide today, as an additional source of joy and support to disadvantaged children and their families.

Each Happiness Box contains a selection of dry grocery items (such as rice, beans, vegetables and oil) which enable healthy food choices and can cook up to ten nutritious meals for a growing child. We also include recipe ideas and, where we can, items of stationery like notepads and pencils, to help disadvantaged children make the most of their education.