10 March 2023, Asia: Nutri Pathshala has launched in India to bring added nutrition to two million children through school meals. This “nutri-school” initiative will incorporate locally produced iron-enriched pearl millet and zinc-enriched wheat into school feeding programs, providing a safe and sustainable way to combat widespread micronutrient deficiencies.
The initiative has garnered renowned support. “Nutri Pathshala will help children aspire and achieve their dreams with a thali full of poshan (plate full of nutrition),” said celebrity Chef Natasha Gandhi of Master Chef India, who inaugurated the first Nutri Pathshala school alongside Arun Baral, CEO of HarvestPlus.
Nutri Pathshala is being implemented through the HarvestPlus and Happel Foundation project Health and Nutrition for School-Age Children (HaNSA). HaNSA is enriching the world’s largest school feeding program, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS), with home grown added nutrients and nutrition education.
The first Nutri Pathshala was initiated on February 21, 2023 in Maharashtra with partners including Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences (SIHS), AgroZee Organics Private Limited, PurpleZone, and Zila Parishad Pune.
“We are trying to make a sustainable, positive impact through our initiative. Nutri Pathshala aims to give children equal access to nutritious food and education for a brighter and healthier future,” said Ravinder Grover, HarvestPlus Asia Regional Coordinator.
Sammita Jadhav, Director of SIHS was encouraged by the launch and said, “I believe with this initiative we will equitably add-on nutritious food to the government’s MDMS program for school-age children across the nation.”
Malnutrition in India, particularly among children, remains a public health challenge. Over a third of Indian children under five years old are stunted and one in four is anemic. Diets that lack iron and zinc are a major contributor to micronutrient deficiencies, preventable disorders that hold children back from reaching their full potential in school and later in life.
HaNSA responds to the Government of India’s National Nutrition Strategy, which emphasizes the need for food-based solutions to address nutrition insecurity. Over the next four years HaNSA will scale up Nutri Pathshala and other activities to at least six other states across the country through a seed-to-plate implementation model that will bring nutrition and livelihoods benefits to children and farming families alike.
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