As a nation, we have long battled with the problem of hunger, where a large part of our population was forced to sleep hungry every night. But today, we have reached a point, where while families are finding food in some form or another, they are not finding the right nutrition. Ensuring two times food for their children has always been the primary concern for these parents, and due to limited access and awareness, they have not been able to think beyond it.
India is home to over one-third of the world’s chronically malnourished children. Close to 21% of our children are underweight for their height. Anaemia in India is rampant among children below the age of three (78.9%). That’s a grim reality to begin with!
Against this reality, Smile Foundation started to work in the field of nutrition. We realized it was necessary to move from food to the ‘right’ food. We then launched ‘Nutrition for Education’ initiative, under which we not only provide nutrition to children in accordance with their daily requirements; but also, sensitize parents and families on how their child needs the right nutrients, how these nutrients enhances their child’s health and education, and all the small changes in their daily food intake that can create a huge impact.
Recently, India ranked 100th out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index. This against the 97th position that India held last year. Slipping down 3 places from last year, and faring worse to most other developing countries in the world sets a backdrop of the massive crisis that we are currently in the middle of as a nation.
This list takes into consideration the undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting. It also appears that only about 9.6% of children between 6 to 23 months of age receive adequate diet in India. Given that our child birth rate per day is about 360,000, 9.6% then is a relatively low rate for children eating healthy food.
Malnourishment and undernourishment are on a rise amongst Indian children. It should suffice to say that it’s time we come together and protect our children. It’s time we provide them with the right food which they all deserve. It’s time we shift complete focus to nutrition based programs and ensure our children grow up to be healthy and happy.