India, at present, is to a large extent self-sufficient in terms of foodgrains stocks. However, it is a very anomalous situation because in spite of availability of food nearly 40% of the children in this country are malnourished. The primary reason for this is lack of purchasing power due to dire poverty. Millions of children go to bed hungry or at best half fed because their parents/guardians are not able to purchase food for them.

Under these circumstances a routine welfare project would have just distributed food to the children and completed their task-but not Mahadev Madhav Nidhi Charitable Trust. It thought of linking food to education and savings to make it a developmental project.

Our Food for Education programme distributes free food to poor children if they attend any formal or non-formal educational class. It thus combines food with education-we now have a child who is educated and well fed also. The programme has been very effective in arresting the drop-out rate in schools because children were being sent to schools because of the free mid-day meal.

For older children-rather youth in the 14 to 23 years age group the trust has Food for Savings-a programme which gives food to such youth if they save a part of the money earned by them doing odd jobs. This money is deposited in a bank and the cumulated savings can be used either for a social commitment or starting a micro-business by the youth. This has another side benefit-the youth who would have in the normal course wasted this money on movies or even drugs now puts it to good use.

The Food Project has been going on since 1990-19 years ago and has been appreciated by one and all for its benefits to the poor children and youth of Mumbai. The food is prepared centrally in the kitchens of the trust and then distributed to the children through networking with NGOs who work with the poor children. Around 7000 children are fed daily under this programme.

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