Childhood is the most mouldable stage among all the developmental stages. Whatever children receive during their formative years manifests in the future. If children receive proper care, nourishment, and education during their early stages of life they grow up to be healthy, resourceful, and responsible youths. If they are deprived of these basic needs they turn out to be unhealthy, unproductive, and in certain circumstances, they become anti-social elements of the society too. Alongside, it is essential to discover the hidden talents of children too. When these talents are tapped and coached, it provides a direction for children as to what they want to pursue in future. Thus, it is not just enough to talk about child rights, it is needed that we get down to the ground and ensure that every child gets access to their fundamental right to food and education, along with the provision to explore their skills.
It is heartening to see governments, NGOs, Corporates, and individual supporters working in unison for child-related causes. One such example is The Akshaya Patra Foundation operating its Mid-Day Meal Programme in Public-Private Partnership model. While concentrating on its core cause of providing school meal to children, this Foundation has also taken several initiatives for proper growth and development of children. One of the most recent initiatives of this Indian NGO is the ‘Feed the Future Now’. Acceding to the fact that the future of children is in our hands, the whole initiative revolves around the idea – children are the future and accessibility to right to education can transform their future.
Through ‘Feed the Future Now’, Akshaya Patra is aiming at garnering support from all sectors of the society – public, private, and civil. It is providing a platform where any and every one can participate extensively to support the health and education of children. And, as rightly put across by Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18, “Education is the key to unlock India’s true potential and it is the future generation that needs to be equipped and nurtured today.” The participating corporate partners for this initiative are GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo, Nestle, Reliance Fresh, Viacom18, Facebook, Big FM PVR Cinemas and The Lalit Group of Hotels. Renowned personalities such as Sanjeev Kapoor (Celebrity Chef and Entrepreneur), Shankar Mahadevan (Composer and Playback Singer), Vivek Oberoi (Indian Actor), and Sonali Bendre (Indian Actress) have also stepped forward in support of the initiative. Appreciating the efforts of Akshaya Patra and the ‘Feed the Future Now’ initiative, here is what they said:
- “Malnutrition is one of those issues that require urgent attention. The emphasis should not be on feeding just food but providing a nutritious meal. I implore more friends from the fraternity to join hands with the movement, and help us make our country a Poshit Bharat, Shikshit Bharat (Nourished India, Educated India).” – Shankar Mahadevan, Goodwill Ambassador for Akshaya Patra.
- “We, as a country has had so many achievements at the global platform but hidden hunger still remains an obstacle to sustaining education and achieving one’s full potential. ‘Feed the Future Now’ aims to combat this issue and I am glad to pledge support to its mission of nourishing the future of India so that kids get a holistic upbringing, just like we all did.” – Vivek Oberoi.
- “Children are India’s future and one will be surprised that many of our children cannot afford a decent meal owing to poverty. If all of us get together and take responsibility for feeding a child per year, they will not have to drop-out of school because of a hungry stomach. We would have contributed to nation-building in our own little way.” – Sonali Bendre.
- “My own journey of cooking food for my family and friends and presenting it to millions of viewers on television is in absolute sync with the Foundation’s idea – the joy of giving is much more than the joy of receiving. We, especially our strong chef community across the globe, must all strive to make nutrition our agenda to make ‘Feed the Future Now’ a mass movement and commit to the cause wholeheartedly.” – Sanjeev Kapoor.
Though it may sound cliched, everybody agrees to the fact that children are the future. So, come forward, participate and donate for children. When you influence the present in the right way, it will manifest as a ‘Nourished India, Educated India’. Feed The Future Now is a nationwide movement to feed 5 billion meals to children by 2020. The campaign aims to spread awareness about Right to Food and Right to Education .
Author, Ankush, Social volunteer lives in Bengaluru. Helps the society by volunteering for the NGOs across India.