Kerala

This school in Kerala asks kids to grab food packets before returning home to combat hunger

Food for thought: Koladipattu, a tribal art form, staged by the students of the Attathodu Government school.

Food for thought: Koladipattu, a tribal art form, staged by the students of the Attathodu Government school. | Photo Credit: LEJU KAMAL

Returning home everyday evening after classes marks a respite from the anxieties and rigidity of school hours for most students. But for some, it can be a vulnerable period of food insecurity.

As the headmaster of the Attathodu Government Lower Primary School inside the Sabarimala forests, Biju Thomas knows about the daily struggles of his students for food after the school hours – something that often put them at an academic disadvantage. Offering food at school, then, may at best be a stop-gap measure in combating hunger.

That is why the institution he heads has now found a means for reaching out to the students after the school hours in the easiest way possible – through food packets.

Starting later this month, the school authorities will be asking their students to pick up a food packet before returning home in the evening. The scheme, to be executed with financial assistance from the Rannni-Perunad panchayat, will be an extension of the existing programme of offering nutritional food to students three times a day on all working days.

“Almost all the 50 students in the school come from the tribal hamlets inside the Sabarimala forests. It makes sense then that these dinner packets will help meet the need in a region that fights the nutrition gap,” explains Mr. Thomas.

The school, which last year was in the news for being the first tribal school in the country to adopt gender-neutral uniform for its students, has been receiving good response for its student support programmes. During the recently concluded summer vacations, the school had engaged a Kudumbashree canteen to deliver food packets to all their students who belonged to the two tribal settlements of Manjathodu and Plapally.

The institution, in association with a charity organisation, has also completed distribution of learning materials to all its 50 students for the ongoing academic year.

Currently functioning out of a community hall near Attathodu, the school is slated to be shifted to a dedicated building coming up at Nilackal. According to officials, the Public Works department has already kick-started preparatory works on the building, which is being implemented under the Rebuild Kerala programme.


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 9:26:20 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/this-school-in-kerala-asks-kids-to-grab-food-packets-before-returning-home-to-combat-hunger/article65533461.ece