In a first such initiative, The Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF), Iskcon’s wing that provides midday meals to schoolchildren, will be offering nutrient-rich millets on the menu. The initiative is being taken up on a request by the Government of Karnataka, in order to enhance nutrition provided to children in schools.
Millets will be offered twice a week along with the existing mid-day meal menu of rice and sambar. Millets pongal, bisibelebath and pulao are part of the menu that has been planned with the scientific assistance of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The initiative is being launched on a pilot basis across ten government and government-aided schools in Bengaluru, covering 1,622 children. The foundation would expand this initiative to other schools in the State and eventually across the country based on the feedback from the children, TAPF vice-chairman Chanchalapathi Dasa said.
The pilot was launched ahead of the Organics and Millets 2018, International Trade Fair, being organised at Bengaluru Palace from January 19 – 21.
Speaking at the launch of the programme at Government Higher Primary School at Kumaraswamy Layout, Bengaluru, Minister for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda said the Chief Minister had expressed interest in the project and asked them to conduct a pilot of the same. He added that the meals have been planned after careful assessment of nutritional requirement of children.
“The country has taken strides in achieving food security. The mid-day meal programme started in Karnataka has ensured food security for children. To further this agenda, it is imperative that we focus on nutrition security, particularly amongst children. Introducing millets in mid-day meals is a great beginning towards ascertaining this. Millets are not only rich in nutrients, but they are also good for our health, smallholder farmers and for the environment,” he said.