Personally, I cannot concentrate even for five minutes when I am hungry. And, even if I push myself, I will end up doing a half-baked job that will require me to ultimately rework on the same thing. Least had I realised, until recently, that each day millions of children undergo incessant hunger pangs while trying to concentrate in classrooms. It made me to think ‘can right to education be achieved if we do not take care of the basic necessity called food?’

Food and education

Many research studies have indicated that food and education are inter-related factors. While it is true that without food children cannot concentrate well in classrooms and school activities, it is also a matter of concern that with food and no education, children will turn out to be dependent citizens of the country. Thus, it is important for food and education to go hand in hand. But, one should also be mindful of the fact that food here is indicative of nutrition-rich diet. Only a balanced nutritious meal will support proper physical and cognitive development in children. Only such a meal will maintain the nutrition equilibrium in the body that is vital for children to be active and focus on learning. This is being well-understood by The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in India that has been providing wholesome school meals for the past 17 years. With their school lunch programme, they aim to provide ‘unlimited food for education’ and achieve the vision of ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’

In order to address the need of providing nutritious food to school-going children and to garner support from all sections of the society, Akshaya Patra recently began ‘Feed the Future Now’ campaign. This campaign is an attempt to spread awareness regarding the criticality of hunger and hidden hunger in the development of children. It intends to advocate the right to food while providing a platform for each and every one of us to contribute towards what we all believe ‘children are the future of a society’. And, it is heartening to see that corporate giants such as GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo, Nestle, Reliance Fresh, Viacom18, Facebook, Big FM PVR Cinemas and The Lalit Group of Hotels, along with renowned individuals namely Shankar Mahadevan, Vivek Oberoi, Sanjeev Kapoor, and Sonali Bendre have joined hands with the NGO in this initiative. Expressing her view, Ms. Deepa Menon, Senior Vice-President (Corporate Communications & CSR), PVR Ltd. said, “Nutrition and development are interlinked. Therefore, being a socially sensitive organisation, PVR is supporting ‘Feed the Future Now’ initiative through the use of its physical infrastructure. The initiative is also in sync with the ethos of PVR Nest which concentrates its efforts towards mainstreaming underprivileged children and restoring confidence among them by investing on education, health and nutrition, skill development, and employability through our ‘Childscapes’ programme.”

In my opinion, Akshaya Patra has opened the door to a path, on which when we walk, we can ensure Right to Food and Right to Education of millions of our young citizens. And, as we know that the nation is fast progressing towards the day when it will be a home to the youngest and largest working-age population in the world, the least we can do is participate and contribute in the endeavour of this Foundation.  Let us donate for children and give them the benefit of nutritious meals and rightful education.

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