HarvestPlus has launched a novel “nutri-school” model to increase school children’s access to nutrient-enriched foods and promote optimal health and development as a part of the Indian Government’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
Nutri Pathshala is an integral approach being adopted by the HarvestPlus and Happel Foundation project, Health and Nutrition for School-Age Children (HaNSA). HaNSA is integrating locally procured biofortified grains into the meals of two million Indian children through school feeding programs.
In addition to providing nutrient dense meals, Nutri Pathshala delivers education about broad aspects of health and nutrition. The project is teaching children about the importance of adequate hygiene, a balanced diet, the benefits of biofortified crops, and guiding them on how to prepare and choose meals that are nutritionally adequate, affordable, and accessible.
This holistic approach aims to address some of the underlying causes of malnutrition, improve school children’s nutritional status, and promote short- and long-term behavioral changes that will translate into lifelong nutrition and health benefits for the whole family.
The Nutri Pathshala model introduces concepts critical to the healthy development of children, such as:
- Nutri-Khet, or the “fields growing biofortified crops” that serve as the foundation of the project. Nutrient-enriched seeds and grains are grown by local farmers and farmer producer companies.
- Nutri-Kitchens, or a “kitchens cooking nutritious meals” that ensure access to safe, nutritious, and wholesome meals.
- Arogya Clubs, “health clubs” or dedicated spaces for school children to learn about health, nutrition, physical activity, healthy eating habits, clean water, sanitation and hygiene, physical and mental growth, and more.
- Nutri-Diary, a tool to track the daily meals consumed and evaluate the impact of the program. The diary also monitors activities and games associated with a balanced diet and physical activity.
- Nutri-Buddy, a collaboration between senior health and nutrition students from local educational institutions and Nutri Pathshala students to help with project monitoring and adherence to the nutri-diary, while providing support and training to teachers running Arogya Clubs and other related activities.
Using the Nutri Pathshala approach, the HaNSA project aims to improve the nutrient density of school meals across six Indian states (Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Telangana) to help combat hidden hunger and promote equitable cognitive and physical development across social classes and genders.