Somewhere in Palghar..

How The Breakfast Revolution’s Snacks are Combating Malnutrition in Palghar, Maharashtra

In Palghar district of Maharashtra, children look forward to school. Earlier, they would wait hungrily for their mid-day meals till 12.30 in the afternoon, without paying much attention to studies. Now, they rush to school eagerly in the morning knowing that the first tasty snack will be served for breakfast. With some food in their stomach, they are able to concentrate on studies for the rest of the morning. The Breakfast Revolution’s meals have thus added an extra incentive for them to study!

In 2017, Palghar witnessed 577 child deaths due to undernourishment. People in this tribal-dominated region grapple with this epidemic every day. Many of the 1,90,464 children of the district’s 3195 anganwadis often go hungry. Deaths of children below five years of age is a common affair.  An approximate of 60 percent children suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Poverty is a constant companion as most are children of farm labourers who earn less than $2 (INR 140) per day for 40-45 days in a year.

Here, The Breakfast Revolution partnered with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) cell of Palghar, and acquired permission to cater to the entire district. In July 2018, the organisation began working with Safe Kids Foundation and started a pilot project with 250 children of 10 anganwadis. They received nutritious meals, and education on hygiene and nutrition. By March 2019, 35 more anganwadis (727 more children) were reached. Thus, the entire Safale tehsil of Palghar was covered. June 2019 onwards, 30 more anganwadis (an approximate of 850 children) are to be added to the ambit of the project.

A health camp conducted for the children of Palghar in July 2018 showed that 32.7% suffer from grade 1 malnutrition, 10.9% from grade 2, and 34.5% from grade 3, which is the most severe. Less than a year after this alarming find, in April 2019, another health check-up proved that height and weight of 100 percent children have increased! The Breakfast Revolution’s snacks are helping children combat malnutrition.

However, the project is not without challenges. Since Palghar is remote, the cost of transportation adds to the expenses. Along with that, there are costs for implementation, checks and training. All this increases the cost by INR 7 per child. Most children are battling severe acute malnutrition – they require more attention and resources than offered by the organisation’s usual programme. Medical help in Palghar is scarce – children with severe acute malnutrition are worst affected as basic health camps are absent, doses of Vitamin A are not administered, and deworming is not adequately done.

But all challenges considered, The Breakfast Revolution aims to continue its movement against malnourishment, and reach 100 anganwadis by 2019

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