Interacting with local residents to create awareness about nutrition

Fight Hunger Foundation in association with Project Rise, a Dawoodi Bohra initiative to lift children out of hunger, organised a nutrition program in Mokhada, Palghar (a district of Maharashtra). The focus of the outreach program was to celebrate the ‘Rashtriya Poshan Maah’ (National Nutrition Month) by raising awareness about the importance of nutrition for health and well-being, especially among the tribal communities residing in the area.

Among the participants were men, women and children of various ages who enjoyed a street play, popularly known as ‘Nukkad Natak’, which was performed by local artists to spread the message of healthy eating habits. A nutritious meal was also specially organized by Faiz al-Mawaid al-Burhaniyah – the Dawoodi Bohra community kitchen. The meal comprised of mixed vegetables, pulses, a portion of rice, fruit, buttermilk and some olives which are known to help in maintaining a healthy immune system.

A fun way to learn. Local artists perform street plays for the audience

Later a group discussion was conducted by a Mumbai-based clinical nutritionist and dietitian, Mrs Alifia Bhol to educate families on the importance of staying healthy. During her interaction with mothers, she stressed the importance of breastfeeding and counselled them on ways to improve hygiene and nutrition levels in the neighbourhood.

Nutritionist and dietitian Alefiyah Bhol instructing local women on good nutritional practices

Speaking on the program, Mrs Bhol thanked the Fight Hunger Foundation and Project Rise team for taking the initiative in organising this awareness program as part of the ‘Rashtriya Poshan Maah’.

This year, the Government of India has announced September as the ‘Rashtriya Poshan Maah’ with the objective of sending the message of nutrition to each and every household — ‘Har Ghar Poshan Tyohar’ (every house a celebration of nutrition). Centered around this are the eight key themes including Antenatal Care, Optimal Breastfeeding, Complementary Feeding, Anemia, Growth Monitoring, Education; Diet and right age of marriage for girls, Hygiene and Sanitation and Food fortification.

According to data from the National Family Health Survey-4, Indian children are dealing with one of the world’s worst levels of malnutrition. Roughly 40 percent of children under five are stunted (less height for their age), 21 percent of children under five are severely wasted (less weight for their height) and 35.7 percent are underweight.

To fight this challenge, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi recently launched the National Nutrition Mission in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, with an aim to bring down the number of those suffering from stunted growth among children up to the age of six years from 38.4 percent as of March 2018 to 25 percent by 2022.

The mission also seeks to bring convergence amongst various ministries, organisations and citizens at large to synergise efforts towards accomplishing a target of a malnutrition-free India.