Fighting malnutrition in Bangalore – a fourth grader’s story
April 01, 2016
Last June, Gautham's health checkup in Bangalore, India, showed alarmingly low levels of hemoglobin due to malnutrition. The fourth grader was missing class, uninterested in physical and academic activities, and wouldn't interact with other children during break hours.
The doctors who conducted the check-up as part of a Cargill-supported nutrition project advised teachers to give Gautham special attention. He received protein tablets and free nutritious food with his classmates as part of Cargill's Mid-day Meal program.
Just two months later, Gautham showed significant improvement in his hemoglobin levels, which enabled him to play sports again with his friends at Lovedale Foundation Banyan Community School in Bangalore.
Gautham is just one of 350 students at the school, ages 5 to 15, receiving special care through the Mid-day Meal program. The initiative started last June and is being executed by Charities Aid Foundation. At the beginning of the project, more than 62 percent of the children had a BMI (body mass index) of less than five, indicating that these children were severely underweight and malnourished. Five months after the intervention, the average BMI of these children increased to 16.1.
For many of the students, this meal is the only consistent food they receive. The program also organizes quarterly health check-up camps in the school to monitor the health condition of each child and provide extra medical support for children like Gautham.
By the end of 2016, Cargill, Charities Aid Foundation and the Lovedale Foundation Banyan Community School aim to increase the BMI of all students by 15 to 20 percent.
Meenakshi Batra, CEO of Charities Aid Foundation India, said she is proud of their association with a socially responsible company like Cargill.
"Their intervention in providing the mid-meal support to the children of Banyan school is commendable," said Batra. "Such interventions have a long lasting impact for other development parameters, such as health and education."