“Healthy citizens are vital for a healthy nation”. However clichéd this might sound, the ground reality remains an absolute fact. This is well construed by every nation and hence each nation has developed many programmes and schemes to achieve this objective.
Talking specifically about India, the Central Government has initiated many Child health and Nutrition Programmes as a step towards countering malnutrition and child hunger. These programmes put forth the standard nutrition requirement of children at different stages of their growth and how the requirement can be met. One such programme is the Mid Day Meal Scheme.
It is a free school lunch programme executed in Government schools. It is an effort to counter classroom hunger, child hunger and malnutrition among children from the lower economic strata. It is also a medium to address the issue of illiteracy by encouraging children to come to school and continue their education.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation implements this Mid-Day Meal Programme under the aegis of Central and various State Governments. It provides freshly cooked nutritious meal to more than 9000 Government schools across 19 locations of India. At Akshaya Patra, all types of green vegetables and pulses are used in its mid-day meal recipes. Even though the menu changes depending on the local palate, it always follows the Government nutrition norms while preparing the mid-day meal.
According to National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools the cooked mid-day meals should provide 450 Calories for Primary students and 700 Calories for Upper Primary students. It should provide 12 grams of protein for Primary students and 20 grams for Upper Primary students; along with adequate quantities of micro-nutrients like Iron, Folic Acid, Vitamin A etc. Akshaya Patra is able to adequately meet these norms through its nutrition specific recipes.