It is Children’s Day today. A day when we celebrate our bundles of joy. A day that they enjoy spending in school as they get a break from uniforms and classwork. Spent in fun, festivity and pampering, the children look forward to going to school today. My children are also curious as to how we would celebrate their special day at home. Sometimes I cook them something elaborate and at other times we enjoy a meal in a fancy restaurant. Amid all this happiness is the other side of the coin, the millions of children in India who don’t get to eat three square meals in a day. Many of them don’t attend school because they have to work to run their families. Some of them get just one meal a day and go hungry on a regular basis. Many others who venture into the classrooms are dull and unable to concentrate on their curriculum as their tiny, malnourished bodies cry for food.

Is there no guardian angel for them? Do they not deserve the basic right to food and education?

hunger

Pic courtesy: http://www.wfp.org

Yes, it is true. Hunger kills! It is the most deadly disease on the face of this earth. And the developing countries in Asia and Africa face its maximum wrath.

One in every six children in Asia is underweight.

66 million people attend schools on an empty stomach!

Considering these statistics, it is a national crisis to keep our children in schools. Remember, it also protects them from predators and keeps them safe while their parents go out to work.

Let us see what measures can help keep poor children in school:

Food: As most poor kids are undernourished, hunger is something that they deal with on a day-to-day basis. Keeping this in mind, the government started its Mid-Day meal (MDM) program in government-run and aided schools in 1995. Before that a few states in India were doing the same on their own resources. The MDM program is revolutionary. It has helped keep children in school and provide them a nutritious meal. In this effort, they are being supported by NGOS like Akshaya Patra Foundation  which reaches 1.4 million children across India by its own initiative. I contribute to them regularly.

Here are some issues that the government’s MDM program needs to work on:

  • Breakfast for children: Children stay hungry and are unable to concentrate on their studies as they most often come to school without breakfast. Something like an egg and banana or milk with biscuits will go a long way in staving off hunger till lunch time.
  • Hygiene: It is important that MDMs be prepared in hygienic conditions. We have seen too many cases of children falling sick after eating food that was contaminated with germs or external agents.
  • Nutritionally balanced food: MDMs specify minimum nutritional requirements. They must be adhered to for ensuring that the kids get a meal that takes care of their required nutritional needs.

An AC Nielsen study conducted in 2007 has shown that this Mid-day meal scheme has increased school attendance of children. Well-balanced hot meals are tackling the issue of malnourishment in Indian children. Children are also found to have better energy and increased focus leading to a better performance in classroom helping them continue with their education. But more needs to be done. And this program needs to be taken to every nook and corner of the country.

Toilets:

While free food is a big attraction to pull kids back into schools, the issue of toilets especially for girl children is a major concern. Only 1 in 6 rural schools in India have toilets. This causes the girl children to drop out from school.

Let us all endeavor on this Children’s Day to eliminate hunger in classrooms for our children. The government and the NGOs need our help to attain this mission. In just Rs. 750, you can feed one child for a year. It is even less than what we spend at a meal outside. So donate generously.

The only hunger that is desirable is to see our children hunger for education and for achievement.

Let them eat well to think and grow to their potential!

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda

 

Comments

comments

36 Thoughts on “Hunger kills — Keep our children in schools

  1. It’s a sad reality..The millions of children who don’t even get the basic necessities of life.. The striking contrast is heart breaking… Sometimes I wonder that these children suffer for no fault of their own…
    nabanita recently posted…#MicroblogMondays 11: Grateful MondaysMy Profile

  2. A thoughtful post, with many good points, for Children’s Day. Well done, Rachna!
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Cook Pray Love: A RemembranceMy Profile

  3. A very relevant post Rachna. Till these basic issues of Hunger and sanitation is tackled well, education would still remain a far cry for a lot of children in our country.
    Asha recently posted…Footloose in the hinterlands of GoaMy Profile

  4. A wonderful post, Rachna. I am so glad that Blog adda is doing this and that we, as bloggers, can do our bit to raise awareness as well as get children fed. Loved the stark reality with which you mention that 750/- is even lesser than what we spend on a meal outside. Well done.
    Shailaja V recently posted…Feed a child, Save a LifeMy Profile

    • Thanks, Shailaja. I think this is the least that we as bloggers can do for this good cause. I regularly contribute to Akshaya Patra and hope that others do as well. Proud of you for writing as well.

  5. We have a whole cycle that begins from this reality. The empty stomachs, the half baked minds, grudges in life while growing up and that leads to host of other issues that our country is facing. Glad that the NGOs are supporting this cause and taking the baton forward.
    Jas recently posted…Caves of the UnknownMy Profile

  6. It is a very pertinent post, one that brings things down the basic need — that of food. Empty celebrations mean nothing when the star of the day (supposedly) is the child and whose needs are completely ignored. Unless we address these issues urgently Children’s Days will come and go….
    Zephyr recently posted…Close encounters of the river kindMy Profile

  7. This is indeed the need of the hour, Rachna.
    All valid points. Agree with you…
    Glad that we have a chance to help.
    Anita recently posted…Blog To Feed A Child – IIMy Profile

  8. One thing that I cannot tolerate is when children going hungry…it tears me up. Even when I see small children on the roads selling coloring books and other stuff, I try and give them something to eat. Those little ones on the road under the hot sun, going hungry is not something I would like to see.
    And for those who go to school, the MDM is a great boon. Its our responsibility to feed these children and make them prepared for a better future India.
    UmaS recently posted…Another Wednesday, another pictureMy Profile

  9. Mid day meal is sure a great idea, let us hope the implementation is also good like you suggest..
    Prasad Np recently posted…From Dusty to desi: A Gift From AustraliaMy Profile

  10. it is a good post……..i am agree with you…….government provides help for poor school children…..i am a teacher so understands this problems……i am ready for help……..
    Amul Sharma recently posted…Secret To Be MillionaireMy Profile

  11. I completely agree with you Rachna.. Child hunger is heart wrenching..
    The mid-day meal scheme is a great idea that has been implemented with various mixed results across the country.
    And most of them send their children to school with the hope their child gets atleast one square meal a day.. :-/
    Pixie recently posted…EvilMy Profile

    • True, Pixie. Though MDM scheme has its flaws, we cannot overlook the good it has done to the country. And NGOs like Akshaya Patra are doing so well in this field. It is so sad the extremes we see in this country. :/

  12. I agree Rachna, MDM is very much needed. Ant the government should also take initiative so that they are served equally among all school-going children and cooked hygienically…as you’ve mentioned.
    Maniparna Sengupta Majumder recently posted…Soulebration, a Celebration of Creativity By FNP WeddingsMy Profile

    • Thanks, Mani! The program has been going on since quite some time. The inefficiencies must be improved and its scope enlarged for which public donation is also essential.

  13. Much needed post for this children’s day, you are right about the breakfast necessity in the MDM programme, most of the children attend school only because of the MDM programme. I have seen children rushing to school just before the lunch , having the food and leaving in the tea break. Introducing breakfast may make them stay longer at school and thereby acquire knowledge too
    Hema recently posted…Top 10 Reasons to Vaccinate your ChildMy Profile

    • Thank you, Hema. I know the logistics, money, delivery etc. is difficult to provide breakfast but it is a big problem for poor, hungry children to study on empty tummies. I hope that this suggestion will be heeded. Thanks so much for reading!

  14. Mid day meal is amongst the most corrupt policy..Children get fed the worst food,adulterated,bad for health.
    There has to be some way all the underfed children get their stomach full.
    I see a long way before it happens,or unless we remove the corruption is delivery system.
    B k chowla recently posted…100 DAYS AND MOREMy Profile

    • Chowlaji, what you are saying is only side of coin. Please do read about Akshaya Patra. They are doing excellent work in this field. Their food is fresh, hygienic and good. Initially the government schemes were riddled with corruption but the government is trying to set it right. Let us not be misinformed. I suggest that you read the links that I’ve shared.

  15. A great post on hunger that’s killing our children. It’s sad how million of children across the globe starve and perhaps, we need to do our bit when so much food go wasted.

  16. Such statistics make me really sad. There are people who waste food and I wish there is some magical wand to transfer food.
    Saru Singhal recently posted…Read Between The LinesMy Profile

  17. I feel guilty every time I have to skip breakfast when I’m running late for work and the look on my mom’s face reminds me of how lucky I am to have breakfast ready on the table, when many people would do anything to eat a decent meal.

    In reality, the situation is much worse. Thankfully we at least have some people doing something to set things right. It might take time, but at least people are doing something to ensure at least one child who went hungry the previous day, has something to eat.
    Ashwini CN recently posted…When You Don’t Know how You Feel!My Profile

    • Yes, these programs are the right step in the right direction. Even at my place, my children know that we take a very dim view of wasting food. They are taught to take smaller portions so that they don’t waste food. It is also important to let our children know that beyond the security that they witness and experience lies another world of starving children.

  18. You’ve explained the problem very well, and suggested excellent and practical solutions. But what I liked most about your post is that you speak about ‘our children’, not ‘poor children’ or ‘children of poor parents’ or … It’s only when we all start treating any problem as our problem that we will start working seriously towards a solution.
    Proactive Indian recently posted…Honesty is the best policyMy Profile

    • Thanks a lot, Pro! Indeed, unless we treat this problem as ours, we will largely be just doing lip service. Thanks for reading and writing about this cause.

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