New Delhi: Every day during the wee hours of the morning, a van slowly makes its way across the bumpy roads of Alwar in Rajasthan. The daily journey is to transport nutritious meals for government school children of the region. The van is a part of a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by Havells, a leading Fast Moving Electrical Goods (FMEG) Company, and a major power distribution equipment manufacturer but set out to work towards ‘Zero Hunger India’ way back in 2005.
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Talking to NDTV about the initiative, Anil Sharma, Head Corporate Communications, Havells India said,
We started serving mid-day meals at government schools of Alwar in 2005. At that time we kick-started our project by covering 1,500 children. Today, we are feeding over 60,000 children across 693 schools, every single day.
He further adds,
We start the preparation of the food every day at 2:30 am and our 36 vans start distributing these meals across Alwar region from 7am every single day.
Sharing details about the Kitchen and how the hygiene levels are maintained, Mr Sharma added,
We have a highly automated kitchen that is built in the 4 four-acre areas. At the kitchen, we go by ‘nothing should be touched by hands rule.
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The menu for the mid-day meals is designed in such a way that it not only gives children adequate nutrition but also serves as a motivation to attend the school on a daily basis.
A class X student told NDTV,
The food is good here because I am not studying on an empty stomach, I get to concentrate more on my studies.
Another student from the same class added,
Our parents leave early to work in the fields, so sometimes they cannot make breakfast for us, most of the time, what we eat here is our first meal of the day.
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Vikas, another Class X student said, “I love the way how the food we get here is clean and hygienic.”
School authorities of these government schools in Alwar have seen a positive impact of the mid-day meals. They say that enrollments in schools have increased and dropouts have decreased over the past few years.
Deepak Kumar, Principal, Rajkiya Uchch Prathmik Vidyalaya, Alwar added,
When I came here 11 years ago, mere 39 children were studying in this school. I urged Havells to supply food here. Today, 11 years later, there are more than 295 students are studying happily.
Talking about the supply of the mid-day meals and how the quality checks are done, Mr Sharma said, “The Havells vans that run through the Alwar city is designed in a way that the food stays piping hot until it is delivered. The food from the kitchen is packed in steel insulated big tiffins and then is transported to various locations in Alwar via these vans. Regarding quality checks, from the time of procurement of food materials to food preparation, storage, and transportation, the company does multiple rounds of quality checks so that there is full control over the quality and hygiene of the meals being served to these children.”
Currently, the Havells team is working to serve food to another 30,000 children in Alwar. If that becomes a reality then the initiative will be providing food to more than 90,000 children in one district alone, every day.