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The 9-year-old Shyam, a fruit-vendor's son, used to study for just 5 months and work for the rest of the year due to the seasonal business of fruit-selling. His family of four had to move from one place to another from time to time. Finally, they settled in an area where there was a government school. Shyam and his sister joined the school. Luckily, midday meal was being provided in the school. This way they could eat a one-time meal along with the school education which helped in relieving the family's burden of arranging the meal. Now, Shyam along with his sister goes to school daily and enjoys the tasty midday meal.
India, a country diverse in religion, culture and language yet unified in spirit, is one of the fastest developing nations of the world. In 2018, India became the world's fastest growing major economy, surpassing China with a GDP growth rate of 8.2 %, which is 1.9 % more than the last year's rate.
Despite such development, India still continues the silent fight against hunger. India is doing better over the past 25 years but India still witnesses more hunger than each of its neighbours, except Pakistan.
Started in 1995 with the mission to eradicate hunger and provide for the basic nutritional needs of the children, Midday Meal Programme is a programme under which freshly cooked wholesome meal is supplied to children in primary and upper primary classes in government and government-aided schools. According to UNICEF, in spite of all these programmes run by the government, out of approximately 60 million children,
- 50% are underweight,
- 45% are stunted (too short for their age),
- 20% are wasted (too thin for their height indicating acute malnutrition),
- 75% are anaemic,
- And 57% are Vitamin A deficient
For such an alarming situation of the children, who are to be blamed?
Their parents who could not afford to feed so many mouths in their household or
The Government which launched a number of programmes for the betterment of people and is still unable to draw successful results?
With such a large population and geographical area of the nation, it is difficult for each and every child to get proper attention. This is where ISKCON Food Relief Foundation steps in. ISKCON Food Relief Foundation, a not-for-profit, non-religious, non-sectarian public charitable organizations under the brand name 'Annamrita' provides midday meal to government and government-aided school children. With its 20 kitchens, across 7 states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal, Annamrita serves 1.2 Million meals every day.
The organization serves freshly cooked meals to the children and this meal not only takes care of the nutritional needs of their body but also acts as an incentive for the children to attend school. Many households can't even afford to have a proper one-time meal, for such children, this midday meal is the only meal that they get to have in a day.
Impact So Far
Since 2004, Annamrita has been providing midday meal across the nation and the results have been encouraging. "Our experience shows, the children who eat our food, they also do better in their exams, their attendance is better in schools and it gives them greater enthusiasm to pursue their studies", said His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami, Trustee-BBT, ISKCON. The programme has also been appreciated by the former Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixit, and even by the former President, Pranab Mukherjee.
The word 'Annamrita' means 'food as pure as nectar' and ISKCON Food Relief Foundation justifies the same through its virtuous work of providing nutritious food full of mother's warmth to the underprivileged children. With the aim of providing Satvik Aahar to the children, Annamrita ensures healthy food with right nutrition to the children that helps them in their formative years.
Even though many children are getting benefited by the programme, still there are children who are yet to be reached, yet to be served and yet to be cared for. For Annamrita to go beyond and help those children in need, your contribution is needed. Even the smallest contribution counts. Help the children, save the future.