Radha acknowledging importance of the mid day meal for her students
Radha is a school teacher at Government Higher Primary School, Munekollalu. As a teacher who understands the social sensitivities of the students, she says, “Most children come from households where both the parents work to fend for the family. A majority of them are cab drivers, domestic workers and daily wage laborers.” The fact explains why the children need support and encouragement to pursue their education.
Each year, the children get a pair of uniform from the government and a few other organizations donate other necessary school utilities like stationery. Radha adds, “Though the children are given the much needed support in terms of stationary and uniforms, one critical requirement for them is the availability of hygienic and nutritious food... Most children either skip breakfast or eat the stale food from the previous night. Since parents leave early in the morning and don’t have the time to cook, this is the story of most children in the school.” Akshaya Patra provides hot nutritious mid day meals for over 300 children on school days.
The eighth-grade-teacher says, “The children love the variety in the food and are eager to find out as to what is the delicacy for the day. The children love the yoghurt based preparations and are ecstatic when they receive their share. Most children have a second helping of the food because they need energy to last till late evening. Only 10% of our students are rich enough to afford the homemade afternoon meal. While they do bring their lunch boxes, the rest 90% are dependent on the mid day meal served in the school.”
Radha is known for her enthusiasm and she actively participates in coaching the children for cultural and sport activities. In the absence of specialized dance or athletic instructors, teachers like Radha double up as dance and physical education teacher.
It is the effective implementation of the mid-day program that has ensured stability in enrollment and attendance in the school. Signing off, Radha says, “The mid day meal not just ensures that the children don’t go hungry but also motivates the parents to send the children to school. It is because they feel by sending the child to school they have one less stomach to feed and at the same time they hope they will study and pursue better career opportunities and have better future.” And Akshaya Patra hopes that there is no child in India deprived of education because of hunger.