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Food and Education

National Nutrition Week – Part 1

National nutrition week

Will a nation prosper if its population dividend is weak, illiterate and unskilled? The instant answer would be ‘No’. Without doubt, the health of a person determines his activeness and zeal to learn and achieve. And, so is true in case of children too. The nutritional status of children determines their age-appropriate physical and cognitive development, energy level, willingness to learn and explore, socialisation, and aspiration to achieve. And, as is said, a strong foundation makes everything built on it stronger and firmer; so, if we provide children with nourishment, education, and talent development, we will be laying a strong foundation for the future progress of the country.

National Nutrition Week

In line with the above thought, the National Nutrition Week is observed annually between 1 September to 7 September with the objective to increase awareness on the significance of nutrition on the overall development of people at a personal level and at a national level. To address each aspect of nutrition and its impact, this particular week is observed with different themes each year, with the theme for 2018 being ‘Go Further with Food’. This year’s theme focusses on the main source of nutrition which we must choose wisely while also exploring nutritious food options from the nature.

Nutritional value of fruits and vegetables

Generally, all fruits and vegetables are nutritious and as a part of the National Nutrition Week, today we will explore the nutritional value and health benefits of three vegetables: Spinach, Carrot, and Brinjal.

Spinach
Spinach

A green leafy vegetable, spinach is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It is also an excellent source of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and many other micro-nutrients. Spinach can be consumed as a salad vegetable or cooked with lentils and other vegetables.

Health benefits:
• Vitamin C strengthens the immune system;
• Vitamin K is vital for blood clotting;
• Folic acid or Vitamin B9 is essential for cell functioning and tissue growth;
• Iron maintains haemoglobin levels;
• The nitrate content in spinach help in moderating blood pressure levels and decrease heart-related diseases;
• The antioxidants help in preventing cancer, diabetes, and reduce risk of oxidative stress; and
• Zeaxanthin and lutein promote eye health.

Carrot
Carrot

A root vegetable, carrot is a highly nutritious, crunchy, and tasty vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. An excellent source for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, beta-carotene, fibre, potassium and antioxidants.

Health benefits:
• The beta-carotene in carrots gets converted to Vitamin A and as commonly known, Vitamin A promotes eye health and immunity along with supporting growth and development;
• Vitamin K1 promotes bone health and is vital for blood coagulation;
• Vitamin B6 is important for converting food to energy;
• Biotin is essential for fat and protein metabolism; and
• Potassium helps to control blood pressure.

Brinjal
Brinjal

An interesting vegetable, brinjal comes in various shapes and colours. From small and oblong to long and thin, the colour of brinjals vary from vibrant purple to green to white.

Health benefits:
• The fibre and antioxidant content in brinjal reduce risk of several lifestyle related health conditions thereby improving overall health and well-being;
• Potassium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6 promotes heart health;
• Polyphenols in brinjal have anti-cancerous properties; and
• Several anti-oxidants promote cognitive function, liver health and regulates cholesterol levels.

The table below indicates that the mentioned vegetables not only provides the essential nutrients but are also sources for micro-nutrients:

Nutrients

Nutrition-rich meals of Akshaya Patra
The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a mid-day meal NGO in India provides nutritious meals to more than 1.76 million school children on each school day across 12 states of the country. To enhance the nutritional status of children, Akshaya Patra has designed its meal menu in a way to include various types of vegetables and pulses. While ensuring that meals are nutritious, it also makes the menu locally palatable and tasty so that children readily and happily consume the served meals daily. Some of the menu items are: rice, bisibelebath, roti, dal palak, sambar, rajma dal, dalma, vegetable pulao, matar paneer, mixed vegetable sabji, and the like.

Conclusion
In short, the National Nutrition Week aims at and encourages a holistic approach for a healthier society. By implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Akshaya Patra is ensuring that children receive ample nourishment during their growth years so that they grow up to be healthy, educated, and resourceful citizens of the country. Be a part of laying a healthy foundation and leading India in the path of properity. Support National Nutrition Week.

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Celebrate for a Cause

Developing A Hunger-Free India

Developing-A-Hunger-Free-India

Categorically defining, youth is the crucial stage between childhood and adulthood, people falling within the age bracket of 15 and 24 years. The support received and the development undergone in this stage defines the future progress of a person, to a large extent. It is this category of people who has the ability to directly influence their individual lives and the progress of the society, making them an important section of the community. They are the torchbearers of the society, of our nation.

International Youth Day

The International Youth Day is an awareness day observed annually on 12 August since the year 2000. It has been designated by the United Nations with the purpose to address the cultural and legal issues of youth worldwide. Youths have been recognised to play a key role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts. Each year the day is observed with a dedicated theme with ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’ being the theme for 2018. The theme expresses the need for safe spaces for the youth to come together, engage in various activities related to governance and public matters, partake in decision-making, and a space to exercise freedom of expression. In short, providing a safe platform for the youths to grow and develop into mature and responsible citizens.

Independence Day of India

India got its independence from the long reigning of the Britishers on 15th August 1947. It has been 72 years since India is breathing in the air of freedom. During these years, India has made huge progresses and developments in all fronts. It has established itself to be one of the most promising nations in the world. And, soon it is going to embrace the title of being the youngest nation with 64% of its population falling in the working-age group.

Is India ready for this new title?

Statistically, India is at the moment struggling with:

Social issues

But, it is also aggressively addressing these disheartening and acute hurdles with promising and potential interventions such as:

Initiatives

Implication of these initiatives

Though it may take a while before we can declare India as a hunger-free nation; yet the above-mentioned interventions have directly impacted and have shown results in countering the current health and nutrition status among children. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, a mid-day meal NGO, has been actively involved in implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in partnership with Central Government, various State Governments, and philanthropic donors. This Indian NGO has been in the service of nourishing children for the past 17 years. Currently, Akshaya Patra is providing nutritious meals to more than 17.5- lakh school children in 38 locations across 12 states of India. Over the years, tangible and sustainable change has been observed in the health and nutritional status of children. Click here to view the positive impact mid-day meals has had among children.

Akshaya Patra’s role in youth development

Nourished children will become healthy youths, educated children will become aware youths, and coached children will grow up to be responsible and empowered youths. Thus, Akshaya Patra while implementing the core mid-day meal programme is also engaged in other feeding and developmental activities to ensure children receive the right nutrition and the right training at the right age. This mid-day meal NGO is involved in providing nutritious food to Anganwadi centres along with coaching mid-day meal beneficiary children in various forms of arts, sports, science related spheres under its initiative ‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’.

Giving every dream a chance

Thus, by making available nutritious food, supporting education, and providing coaching for talent development, Akshaya Patra is creating a strong foundation for generations of healthy, conscientious, and responsible Indian youths.

Conclusion

In précis, the youth is directly responsible to sustain the independence of a nation. They are directly responsible for the future developments and progresses of a nation. Having said that, we must also realise and act to empower them in a way that they direct their energies and talents in the right direction and for the right purpose. But, for that, we need to begin nourishing, nurturing, and moulding them from their childhood. Akshaya Patra gives you a platform to get involved in supporting education of children by providing them with wholesome food. This Independence Day, join hands with Akshaya Patra to give the nation healthy, educated, and resourceful youths. #Pledgetofeed.

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