Press Release: Nourishing Schools Developing Young Changemakers for Better Nutrition

Nourishing Schools

An initiative by Ashoka’s ‘Nourishing Schools’, in a pilot partnership with Lend-A-Hand India

Satara, July 23, 2015: A unique “Nutrition Toolkit” aims to empower schoolchildren to take charge of their own nutrition and that of their communities. The activity-filled initiative is a partnership between Ashoka – Innovators for the Public’s ‘Nourishing Schools’ program and Lend-A-Hand India. They launched toolkit at a Nourishing Schools Orientation on 23rd July at the Shree Koleshwar Vidyalay V Junior College of Arts, Tandulwado, Manglapur, Tal – Koregoan, Dist – Satara, Maharashtra.

The Toolkit, a box filled with colourful games, booklets and charts, tackles the chronic issue of undernourished children in India. It was distributed to headmasters and teachers from five government-aided schools in Satara. Toolkit activities for children include learning the nutritional content of everyday foods, interactive comic books, and even making their own soap. The Toolkit also includes material that can be distributed in the surrounding communities such as food-based home remedies for common ailments and a vegetable calendar that makes it simple to plan the cultivation of nutritious foods. The aim is to shift from giving handouts to enabling people to tackle under nutrition.

At the orientation, the schools were shown the findings from their baseline survey of approximately 500 of their schoolchildren studying between 5th to 9th grades. They learned that anaemia is more prevalent than a low body mass index, which showed that a child’s nutritional status cannot be judged just by their appearance. They also discussed their reactions to the finding that a majority of schoolchildren reported washing their hands with only water, even when soap was provided in the school. 

Vandana Pandit, an instructor from a government-aided school in Satara said, “When we asked students about what they wash their hands with, they became conscious of the fact that they need to use soap. This was a good starting point to get them thinking about hygiene. Teaching children to make their own soap through the Toolkit could be a fun way to motivate children to use soap and practise proper hand washing. We look forward to helping children take charge of improving their nutrition-related practices.” 

Ashoka’s Nourishing Schools aims to reach over 100 schools in India over the next year. 

Archana Sinha, Associate Director, Ashoka’s ‘Nourishing Schools’ says, “Were inspired to see the leadership these schools have shown in tackling the issue of under nutrition. This toolkit has been developed with their support and with inputs from our network of leading social entrepreneurs, called Ashoka Fellows. The toolkit got an enthusiastic response from the school and look forward to working with Lend-A-Hand India to start a new chapter in how undernutrition is addressed in India.”

Ashoka Fellow Sunanda Mane, Co-founder & President, Lend-A-Hand India says, “We are extremely happy to collaborate with Ashoka’s ‘Nourishing Schools’. This novel approach with our partner schools will set an example for other schools and strengthen the role they play in their communities. Students’ academic performance and attendance are priorities for the headmasters in our network of schools,  which can be improved by improving students’ nutritional status thought schools in Maharashtra.”

About Ashoka – Innovators for the Public and Nourishing Schools:

Since 1981, Ashoka has been electing leading social entrepreneurs who are addressing critical social problems with system-changing ideas, into its global network of Ashoka Fellows. By providing them with a financial stipend and professional support, Ashoka helps accelerate their ideas. Within 10 years of election, 93% of Ashoka Fellows’ ideas have been replicated by other organizations. Worldwide, Ashoka has over 3,000 Fellows in 80+ countries.

Nourishing Schools, an initiative started by Ashoka India in 2012, that aims to build capacities within schools which will play a pivotal role in developing children as young changemakers who can take charge of their own nutrition and that of their communities. 

About Lend-A-Hand India:

Lend-A-Hand India (LAHI) is a non-profit venture co-founded in 2003 by Ashoka Fellow Sunanda Mane. It focuses on issues related to youth. Its programs provide vocational training, career development, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities to young boys and girls in rural and urban communities.Lend-A-Hand India collaborates with dynamic grassroots non-profit organizations to develop and implement innovative projects. Their Introduction to Basic Technology syllabus, which teaches farming, cooking, welding and carpentry in schools, has been incorporated as a subject in the Maharashtra State curriculum.  LAHI has a network of over 50 schools in Maharashtra.

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For further information, contact:

  • Archana Sinha, Associate Director, Nourishing Schools,  Ashoka – Innovators for the Public 

      +91-94808 26569 | asinha@ashoka.org

  • Devendra Sampat Mali, Hazel Outlook PR

        +91- 8600993611| hazeloutlook@gmail.com

  • Sunita Mane, Project Officer, Lend-A-Hand India

         +91-9130095201| sunita.mane@lend-a-hand-india.org