IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 3rd Nov 2020
“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.” – Jamie Paolinetti
EDITORIAL HUNT #222 :“Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC”
JAYASHREE | GOPINATH
Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC
The authors work with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
The nutrition fallout of school closures
COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of child hunger and malnutrition
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : 3 : Malnutrition : Food Security
UNICEF recently cautioned that unless social security and school services are strengthened , Children may not knock the School doors. Comment -(GS 1,3)
- Pandemic and Children
- Pressing issues
- Innovative strategies
- Way Forward
- CASUALTY FOR CHILDREN : The largest school-feeding programme in the world, that has undoubtedly played an extremely significant role in increasing nutrition and learning among school going children.
- CONCERNS : The report of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020, by FAO in partnership with other UN organisations, painted a worrying picture.
- MISSING A MEAL : A real-time monitoring tool estimated that as of April 2020, the peak of school closures, 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, a bulk of whom were in India.
- SERIOUS CATEGORY IN GHI : The recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2020 ranks India at 94 out of 107 countries and in the category ‘serious’, behind our neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
- ‘ZERO HUNGER’ GOAL : We are already far out in terms of achieving the ‘Zero Hunger’ goal, and in the absence of urgent measures to address the problem, the situation will only worsen.
- UNICEF CAUTIONS : Unless school services and social security are universally strengthened, there is a risk that some children may not even return to schools when they reopen.
- UNDERNUTRITION : Inadequate dietary intake and disease are directly responsible for undernutrition, but multiple indirect determinants exacerbate these causes.
- Food insecurity
- Inadequate childcare practices
- Low maternal education
- Poor access to health services
- Lack of access to clean water and sanitation
- Poor hygiene practices.
- MICRO-NUTRIENT SHEET : A mid-day meal in India should provide 450 Kcal of energy, a minimum of 12 grams of proteins, including adequate quantities of micronutrients like iron, folic acid, Vitamin-A, etc.,
- DIETARY CONSUMPTION : This above diet is one-third of the nutritional requirement of the child, from classes I to VIII in government and government-aided schools being eligible.
- HUNGRY STOMACH AND HEAVY BAGS : Many children reach school on an empty stomach, making the school’s mid-day meal a major source of nutrition for children, particularly those from vulnerable communities.
- ASSURANCES : Though State ensured that their immunity and nutrition is not compromised. Nearly three months into this decision, States were still struggling to implement this.
- BUFFER STOCK : According to the Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) food grain bulletin, the off-take of grains under MDMS from FCI during April and May, 2020 was 221.312 thousand tonnes.
- OUTSOURCING GRAINS : There were 23 States and Union Territories that reported a decline in the grain off-take from FCI in April-May 2020, compared with corresponding months in 2019.
- DATA MISMATCH : Data and media reports indicate that dry ration distributions in lieu of school meals are irregular.
- AGGRAVATING CHILD LABOUR : The other worrying angle is the fact that there are reports of children engaging in labour to supplement the fall in family incomes in vulnerable households.
- SERVING A HOT MEAL : Even States like Tamil Nadu, with a relatively good infrastructure for the MDMS, are unable to serve the mandated ‘hot cooked meal’ during the lockdown.
- NUTRITIONAL INITIATIVE : Local smallholder farmers can get involved in school feeding is suggested by experts.
- A LIVELIHOOD MODEL : It should links local smallholder farmers with the mid-day meal system for the supply of cereals, vegetables, and eggs, while meeting protein and hidden hunger needs.
- DECENTRALISATION : The COVID-19 crisis has also brought home the need for such decentralised models and local supply chains.
- NUTRITION GARDENS : There are also new initiatives such as the School Nutrition (Kitchen) Garden under MDMS to provide fresh vegetables for mid-day meals.
- LOGISTIC SUPPORT : Besides ensuring these are functional, hot meals can be provided to eligible children with a plan to prepare and distribute the meal in the school mid-day meal centre.
- AWARENESS : Adequate awareness about of the availability of the scheme is needed.
- DOUBLING FARMERS INCOME : Locally produced vegetables and fruits may be added to the MDMS, also providing an income to local farmers.
- PROTEIN INTAKE : Besides, distribution of eggs where feasible (and where a State provision is already there) can be carried out.
- DISSEMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE : Knowledge regarding foods avail essential nutrients for proper growth and development is important .
- A RECIPE COMPETITION : Nutritious recipes must be given to the mothers & encourage them to indulge their children in good eating habits etc
- ADDRESSING THE CRUX : Reducing under-nutrition requires effective implementation of both nutrition-specific and complementary nutrition-sensitive interventions.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Schools – the beginning of the end of malnutrition | UPSC