Lunch at the Shanbhag School


In 2007, the Shanbhag School in Kumta (and their parent, the Konkan Education Trust), started to provide lunch for all their students. In the midst of a long day, the students had previously rushed home during their lunch hour. There are no cafeterias or restaurants near the school.

The school made a significant investment in cooking equipment and prepares a nutritious, vegetarian meal for the ~ 850 primary and secondary school students. Lunch is simply rice, sambar or daal, a lentil curry or vegetable and pickles (see actual student plate above).

During my meetings with parents of Scholarship recipients, and listening to comments at the Parents Teachers Meeting, parents absolutely love the school lunch program. Parents are relieved of the pressure to pack a lunch every morning, or have it ready for the lunch break. Parents are also surprised (and glad) their kids actually eat the variety of vegetables and lentils the school serves. The school subsidizes the lunch and charges students Rs 80 per month (~$2 per month, Rs 4 per meal or ~ 10 cents per lunch!). Students not on the meal plan can eat occasional meals and drop cash in an unmanned donation box.

Kids love the food too. Meals are taken in the company of friends (and associated peer-pressure to finish their plate). Lunch is done within 20-30 minutes, and since they still have an hour break, they get to play around, gossip, or browse the library.

I showed up just before lunch time to “test the quality of the school lunch program.” I always have interesting reasons to be present wherever free lunch is served. Very delicious food and a primary reason why we included lunch as part of the scholarship package for needy students. If your travels bring you to Kumta, you are welcome to join in for a delicious lunch.

Note: In this post from 2014, you can see new pics and video snippets of students in the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra, lining up for lunch and chanting the blessing.

See pics from the Lunch, below


This was in December last on a “casual Thursday” at the school. Thus the student’s colorful attire.

Boys and girls line separately for their lunches; senior students (X Std/grade) take turns serving. This day they also served a special “payasam” (see nearest bucket)

Students wait for all their colleagues to be served before starting.

Then after a brief benediction in Sanskrit (Shanti Mantra),

They start to eat.

One more of the lunch/ auditorium



Updates and Related Posts: Shanbhag School


25 thoughts on “Lunch at the Shanbhag School

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  1. Hi Arun,

    I got some time to revisit your site now and saw that you had replied to my comment. I am glad you take suggestions 🙂

    I would love to donate for a good cause like I already am for various organization big and small ( especially the small ones who do not have big people’s attention/donation, websites/blogs etc to advertise). Having just returned from India I did make some donation in terms of money,time and in kind as much as I could in my short trip. Since we are in the same boat, would you also like to donate a small ( or large) amount to such small not-so-easily-noticed-but-still-need-help centers? I can give you the names if you want and you can directly send in what you can.

    Let’s get in touch, you have my e-mail. 🙂

  2. Thank you Vidya for your kind words of encouragement!
    Yes, Vidya Daan is how I would like to serve society.

    I hear your comment about sitting on tables and chairs.
    The students are actually eating in the Auditorium! If we had a dedicated Lunch Hall, that would be another story.

    Further, many in a typical Kumta home, rich or poor, sit on the floor to eat their meals. Even I have enjoyed sitting on the floor. Currently in Boston, I brought from Kumta a traditional low seat (MaaNaeyi) and we sit on it for watching movies. Very relaxing!

    With my running and yoga, I find sitting on the floor helps to stretch my hip flexors, hamstrings, and has strengthened my core muscles. I wish more people would give up the couch and start to sit on the floor. It is healthier!

    Having said all of this, the school has laid the foundation for a Lunch Hall and Crafts Center. But construction has stalled for lack of funding. Would you like to make a small (or large) donation towards the Lunch Hall?

    Contact me and perhaps we can discuss further.
    🙂

  3. Hi Arun,

    First of all, I want to congratulate and appreciate you for your effort and kind hearted doing with the noble intention to provide education to the needy. May god be with you in every step.

    Providing meals at school is an excellent idea and nutrious simple meals is perfect for growing kids. Double kudos to you!! I had a small suggestion after seeing the pictures. I thought it would be good to have the children sit on tables and chairs ( like those long tables and long benches we see in India) for food instead of sitting on the ground with the supervisors walking around near their plates for either supervising or serving food or for other genuine reasons. I am sure improvement will come slowly as it is a new school, I understand. But just thought I will make a small suggestion.

    Again, I appreciate your efforts and thoughts and wish you the best. Hope your students come out with flying colors and earn the deserved self respect and self esteem you are actually providing to them.

    -Vidya

  4. Good you were there, but my hard luck. I visit Kumta only in May hence all the Institutions are closed for vacation.

    Looks yummy in pic

  5. Thank you Sudeepta!
    I loved the lunch and the atmosphere.

    … so of course, on this visit I attended the school lunch, … again!

    And Thank you for your support of the Scholarships!
    :-))

  6. Casual Thursday! Lucky you landed there – both for the free lunch and the colorful pictures. Kids look great no matter what they wear I guess 🙂

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