Catering hot and hygienic food to school children is a tough task, especially when it cooked at a distance of as much as 40 km from the schools. Yet, it has been made possible by combining technology with philanthropy. At a time, when the Andhra Pradesh government sponsored mid-day meal programme is being criticised for supplying unhygienic food resulting in hospitalisation of school children in some districts, a Hyderabad-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Naandi (means auspicious start in Telugu) has ventured to take up the challenge. Naandi, promoted by non-resident Indians and managed by Dr K Anji Reddy of Dr Reddy’s, has set up a centralised kitchen on a two-acre plot at Uppal (the outskirts of Hyderabad) and has employed around 160 people including 10 cooks.
The food is supplied to two lakh school children in 880 government schools in Hyderabad and Ranaga Reddy district, using navigational charts based on the latest GIS technology to reach the targeted schools by the shortest and quickest routes. With a total project cost envisaged at Rs 2.5 crore, the NGO has spent about Rs 13 lakh on the navigational maps, developed by Map World Technologies Ltd, which will be used by drivers of 62 trucks engaged in distribution of the mid-day meal in a proper sequence eliminating time-loss. This was probably for the first time in the country that GIS and GPS tools are being effectively used for a social cause. The process involved collection of data from the field using GPS techniques. The route maps were then generated to enable drivers to clearly understand the sequence of teaching each school to deliver food and later to collect the utensils.
All the 880 government schools were registered on the maps using GPS from a satellite-based signalling system and the data was transferred to a geo-referenced digital map of Hyderabad district, that already had road networks, landmarks, locality information, etc, fed into it. With the use of the GIS software, it was possible to plan an optimal route as the entire district was divided into 16 mandals. Besides, the company has generated mandal-wise map outputs enabling the administration to prepare a proper plan and understand the requirements. These tools, if required, also provide for troubleshooting.