The predominance of nutrition crisis—covering both undernutrition and over nutrition—is a crucial pointer of a nation’s health. As India strives to achieve its social development goals, hunger is one such complex realities, which looks up for greater responsiveness.
7th April, the occasion of World Health Day presents an apt moment to review our interventions as Government, individuals, and NGOs to address India’s hunger woes.
Healthy food has a significant role to play in the holistic development and growth of children. Right nutrition at the early stages of childhood protects a child from various diseases and infections that can impede age-appropriate growth. Indeed, a healthy childhood paves the way for a healthy life. And, this is where The Akshaya Patra Foundation’s role becomes noteworthy. Alike World Health Day, which aims to provide universal health care for all, Akshaya Patra intends to give every child a healthy start to life by providing wholesome and nutrition-rich mid-day meals.
MID-DAY MEAL GUIDELINES AND OUR ADHRENECE TO IT
On 28 November 2001, The Supreme Court of India guided the State Governments to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by feeding every child in every Government and Government-aided primary school with cooked mid-day meals. The minimum nutritional content of the school meals was fixed to 300 calories and 8-12 gms of protein on every school day. The specified nutritional content has since been enhanced to 450 calories and 12 gms protein for children in primary schools and 700 calories and 20 gms protein for children in upper-primary schools.
The mid-day meal guidelines also illustrate that the meals served must provide the essential micronutrients such as – iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamin A, etc., to the beneficiary children so as to ensure proper growth for them. Akshaya Patra diligently abides by every guideline while preparing the mid-day meals.
The NGO in India, Akshaya Patra also serves nutritious food to 3 to 6 years old children, pregnant women and lactating mothers in Anganwadi centres – a step to provide a healthy foundation during the critical stages of growth. Currently, we serve healthy meals to 1,61,410 children (aged 3-6 years) at 4,786 Anganwadi centres and 6,000 pregnant women and lactating mothers across 323 centres.
BEYOND IMPROVING NUTRITION Akshaya Patra’s understanding of improving nutrition for children is not just limited to increasing access to healthy food. It also covers hygiene and cleanliness while preparing nutrition-rich meals every day. The visible improvement in health and performance of our beneficiary children in school activities are a testimony of the quality food served to them regularly.
Akshaya Patra makes it possible with the help of its 41 state-of-the-art kitchens. The food safety measures in the operations process have been recognised and appreciated across national and international platforms.
Thus, by implementing the Mid-Day Meal Programme and Anganwadi Feeding Programme, Akshaya Patra is laying a healthy and strong foundation for growing children thereby contributing to the theme of World Health Day: “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere.”
This World Health Day, we’re calling on everybody’s support to help us address the classroom hunger for young children in India. Be a Health Champion by gifting them the everlasting goodness of nutrition.