United Way India’s initiative to provide millet-based breakfast to school-going children.
Breakfast is often called the most ‘important meal’ of the day, and for a good reason. It replenishes the supply of glucose to boost energy levels and alertness, while also providing other essential nutrients required for good health. Regular breakfast skipping has been associated with poor diets, higher body mass index, and adverse effects on children’s behavior and academic performance. Research suggests that regular breakfast consumption can improve academic performance, nutrition, and behavior. While children get mid-day meals from the school, breakfast does not get the importance it should.
Through Swahar, United Way India is addressing nutrition and food security among students by providing millet-based meals. Year 2023 is also marked as the International year of Millets’’. This program will also work towards creating awareness and a sense of pride in our country’s ancient and forgotten golden grains, and highlight the relevance of going back to including millets in our diet.
Mumbai is a city with a massive population but, like most of India, it struggles with poverty. An estimated 55 percent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums. The socio-economic condition of the slum dwellers is generally poor because of the lack of basic social amenities, functional skills, proper education, source of income, hygiene, and health resources.
For many families, mornings are a race against the clock to get out of the door to earn a livelihood. Many times, children leave for school with just a cup of tea and some biscuits.
When it comes to children of age groups 5-13 years , breakfast is even more important. Going to school on an empty stomach can affect their health and their cognitive performance. To prevent problems with learning and concentration, it’s very important for children not to go to school on an empty stomach. What’s more, breakfast is fundamental when it comes to getting the nutrients necessary for taking on everyday tasks.
Eating breakfast before school allows children to concentrate more on their tasks, be more open to learning, stay active and even has a positive effect on their behavior. With a full stomach, they’ll be in a better mood at school and have more energy to play, run, exercise, and do everything else the day demands for better growth. United Way India with its ground partner offers a millet-based school breakfast to cover this gap in identified communities in Mumbai.
The programme concentrates on providing hot and nutritious breakfast to the underprivileged children of Municipal Schools in Mumbai. The school breakfast programme will aid in the enrichment of the underprivileged children, fostering their optimal growth and development.
The breakfast for students will be provided before the start of the school for both the morning and afternoon shift. A rotational menu will be provided for all-round nutrition and to cater to children’s palate. Menu would include upma-chutney, banana sheera- which are millet based items. In this project, 500 children in the Byculla area would be covered since Byculla houses big slums and children from these areas need to be supported with required nutrition to have desired learning outcomes.
In this endeavor, United Way India will provide underprivileged students nutrient dense millet based meals at schools.
Project Swahar reaches out to the government schools in urban slums across Byculla, Mumbai to address morning hunger, malnutrition and promote usage of healthy Indian millets.
The major beneficiary group consists of students from nursery till 10th standard. The children belong to families from low socio-economic strata, their parents are involved in the informal sector and often the source of income is dependent on daily wages.
A nutritious traditional Indian breakfast made of healthy millets such as ragi, sorghum, pearl millet and corn is served each morning to the children, encouraging them to be regular at school and stay healthy. Traditional millet dishes like idli, upma and sheera provide low-cost nutrition which ensures sustainability of its consumption and long-term impact on healthy behavior and growth.
Year 2023 has been declared as the International year of Millets and UW India is spearheading this idea by promoting healthy practices and creating awareness on various low cost nutritious millets as superfoods by taking inspiration from traditional recipes made with millets.
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