Nutrition On Your Plate – Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

sanjeev kapoor

Author: Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Millennials and Gen Z are driving societal changes whether it is creating awareness about the environment, philanthropy, or just healthy eating. But hold it. Are these young adults familiar about hunger as the latest raging and real issue at hand? Many youngsters I personally interact with, are blissfully unaware of the ‘hunger epidemic’ and the ‘hidden hunger syndrome’. Without spouting too much of statistics, let me give you the bigger picture. From a Global Hunger Index (2019) standpoint, India has been slipping up in ranking year- on- year to reach a low of being ranked 102 from among 117 countries in 2019. This literally means that more Indians go to sleep hungry, adding to the alarming situation arising due to the pandemic.

Having been associated with Akshaya Patra for many years, I must admit, that I am no stranger to the concept of ‘hidden hunger’. I have first-hand knowledge about hunger amongst India’s large populace. With COVID-19 taking over all our lives and especially underprivileged people, the dual challenges of hunger and malnutrition have really opened up another Pandora’s box. With schools shut down, millions of children who depended on mid-day meals as the only source of a nutritious meal for the day, have been facing starvation. So, what does it mean for us as a country? Are we to continue ignoring our poor citizens of a healthy childhood and later adulthood?

My own experience with caring for others has been soul satisfying. My endeavours at connecting with the disadvantaged have taught me many life lessons.

Nutritious food is a security blanket for all children who make up this country’s future generation. Allow me to cut the chase and come to the point. In India, September is being observed as a National Month of Nutrition. (Rashtriya Poshan Maah)*. In view of this, Akshaya Patra Foundation has launched the ‘Happiness Bags Programme’*. This is an initiative for the Foundation’s mid-day meal beneficiary students, who will receive a Happiness Bag with dry groceries and education supplies to help meet their nutritional needs and cover the educational gap that these students are currently facing. The Happiness Bag humbly priced at ₹550 provides nutrition, immunity, health, hygiene as well as educational materials to disadvantaged families. The nutritional value of the food contents in this bag comprise of protein, iron, iodine, and glucose-rich foods and the bag also includes an activity book to engage the student.

Being observed on September 5th, International Day of Charity is around the corner, and the day is of special relevance this year. Having seen so much of disruption all around, perhaps every individual can take a small step, more so the young folks. So, all young Indians reading this blog, make a difference and contribute towards ‘Nutrition on Someone’s Plate’ by sponsoring one ‘Happiness Bag’ this month and make someone very happy 😊.


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Food and Education

Mid-Day Meal – Adding Value to Health & Education

midday meal scheme

Imagine a scenario where you are neither influenced by the lifestyle of towns and cities nor have incessant access to even the basic necessities like water and electricity. On seeing your parents struggle to give you the best, you think, ‘I will study hard to become a successful person and give the best life to my parents.’

Similar is the story of Indu, a beneficiary of the Mid-Day Meal Programme, who wants to become a doctor to cure her grandmother – her sole caretaker, and provide free treatment to many like her. Know more about Indu here.

Mid-day meals are a major intervention to bring children to school on a daily basis. There are more than 120 million children in India who receive school lunch as a part of the Government’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme. Most of these children go to school just because they get free and healthy meals that they otherwise may not be able to afford.

History of Mid-Day Meal Scheme in India

The roots of the Mid-Day Meal Programme can be traced back to the times of pre-independence, where the British Administration introduced mid-day meals in 1925, followed by the French administration in Union Territory – Puducherry in 1930. From the year 1962-1963 school year onwards this programme was introduced in the states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and the rest of the States of India in the same order. By 1990-1991, twelve States had implemented the programme.

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme was officially launched in India in 1995 to provide adequate nutritious food to children and has been through many changes since. In 2001, the Supreme Court of India mandated all Government and Government-assisted schools to provide cooked mid-day meals to all the students.

The objectives of the Mid-Day Meal Programme are:
• Protecting children from classroom hunger that limits their focus in class.
• Improving nutritional status of children studying in Government and Government-aided schools.
• Increasing school enrolment rates and attendance rates.
• Encouraging socialisation amongst children regardless of caste or creed.
• Creating employment opportunities for women.
To facilitate the efforts, many non-profit organisations have partnered with the Government to combat classroom hunger and malnutrition in India. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is an NGO in India that has been feeding school meals to children since 2000 and has been recognised as the world’s largest NGO-run school meal programme.

Akshaya Patra’s Reach in India
• 18,00,907 children
• 19,039 schools
• 52 locations
• 12 States & 2 Union Territories

According to UNESCO Institute of Statistics, around 2.8 million children, or more, aged between six and 13 years old, do not go to school. In a situation like this, free, unlimited meals are potential incentives for them to come to school. Akshaya Patra strives to support more children from challenging socio-economic backgrounds with regular school meals. It aims to provide unlimited food for education to 5 million children, every day by the end of 2025.

You can donate online to be a part of Akshaya Patra’s mission to make a difference in the lives of children.

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