Hindustan Saga

India’s Fresh Start: Millet-Based Foods Combat Malnutrition in Schools

Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 26, 2024: In a landmark move for India’s children, The Fresh Start Wellness Cafe, led by social entrepreneur Renjith George, has launched two national campaigns, considered to be country’s first of a kind,  to tackle malnutrition and promote healthy eating habits in schools nationwide. 

From India’s sunny southern tip, Kanyakumari, a wave of change washes nationwide. The “Eat Right School” and “Nourish Their Future” initiatives begin on a northward journey to reach Kashmir’s snow-capped peaks. The journey is more than just geographical; it is a battle against malnutrition, a silent enemy that plagues India’s children (as UNICEF reports show). 

Launched in Kanyakumari with the partnership of Dakshin Sahodaya Schools Complex, this campaign isn’t just another launchpad:  it’s a giant leap towards a healthier future for generations. Imagine classrooms buzzing with energy, not hunger pangs. Picture playgrounds filled with laughter, fueled by nutritious food. 

“We see students skip breakfast or lunch, impacting their learning and health,” says Mr Binumon V R, President of Dakshin Sahodaya Schools. “Fresh Start’s affordable cafes in schools provide nutritious food, especially millet-based foods, that kids need to thrive. This aligns with the National Education Policy and will empower students with a balanced and nutrient enriched diet which would positively result in their behaviour, mental health and academic performances”, he added.

Driven by a Passion for Social Impact

Renjith, a techie turned wellness foodpreneur, is no stranger to making a difference. His social entrepreneurship journey began in 2000 in Bangalore, where he was a computer engineering student with the establishment of the Y2KTots Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting disadvantaged children. In 2020, he launched India’s first box-packed wellness diet food products through his startup Foodflavours, demonstrating his commitment to social impact and innovation. Recognising the alarming malnutrition rates in India, he established The Fresh Start Wellness Cafe in 2021, focusing on incorporating a wide range of wholesome, millet-based food products. Since 2022, through y2ktots foundation, Renjith has been supplying nutrient-rich foods to underprivileged children at various orphanages, destitute homes and government schools through a  project called “Good Food Thrive.” His continuous dedication to social good led to the creation of these two impactful campaigns for schools nationwide.

The “Eat Right School” initiative aligns with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) mission and seeks to create awareness about balanced nutrition, food safety, and hygiene. This initiative strives to align school food practices with FSSAI regulations and help educational institutions create a support system that ensures students receive safe, hygienic, well-balanced, and nutritious foods.

Inspired by the Ministry of Education’s directive in the National Education Policy 2020, the “Nourish Their Future” campaign focuses on incorporating millet-based meals into school diets once a week. Millets, the wonder grain, rich in fibre and essential nutrients, include critical vitamins and minerals, helping to create a healthier generation.

The Launch Event

The national launch in Kanyakumari was carried out by Mr. Bathmanabhan, a millet farmer from the local community, symbolising the importance of sustainable agriculture and the interconnectedness of food, health, and the environment.

In the event attended by over 100 educators, an enlightening seminar by Dr Siju Thottapally, a renowned nutrition expert, emphasised the dangers of malnutrition, the health hazards of junk foods and the benefits of balanced millet-based diets. 

The event culminated in a powerful oath-taking ceremony, where educators pledged to ban junk food on their campuses and commit to providing nutritious food. This collective action signifies a significant step towards achieving the campaign’s goals of fostering healthy eating habits and combating campus malnutrition.

This national launch marks a pivotal moment in the nationwide fight against malnutrition on campuses. The Fresh Start Wellness Cafe, with its Feeding the Future, Healing the Community motto, is paving the way for a healthier, brighter future for India’s children by joining forces with schools and communities.

Harvesting Health in Schools Nationwide

The Fresh Start Wellness Cafe has started its journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. It aims to reach schools nationwide, offering services and support to create campus healthy, safe, and hygienic food environments. Its cost-effective model requires minimal infrastructure and unskilled human resources, making it accessible to all schools. With FSSAI, GMP, and HACCP certifications, it ensures the highest quality standards.

Understanding the pressing need of the hour, this transformative national launch marks a pivotal moment in the fight against malnutrition and unhealthy food practices among school children in India. The Fresh Start Wellness Cafe, laying the foundation for India’s first-of-a-kind initiative, not just signifies the commitment to wellness but has initiated a collective step forward for a healthier, brighter future for India’s children by joining forces with schools and communities.

For more information about The Fresh Start Wellness Cafe and its impactful initiatives, please visit: www.thewellnesscafe.in

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