NGO Smile Foundation, West Bengal, strives to prepare deliciously nutritious meals in a bid to bring kids to schools. Tiny tots from neighbouring regions stay in ardent anticipation to savour the day’s meal replete with vegetables. This initiative is to cater students’ hygienic and nutritious needs instrumental in honing academic excellence. Smile Foundation has designed various intervention projects to improve quality of services imparted under the ‘Mission Education’ programme in West Bengal. The entire operation is superintended by Gargi Kapoor, National Manager of the Mission Education programme in West Bengal at Smile Foundation.
Students under 3-18 years could avail the free meal scheme spanning over formal, non-formal and remedial centres. Formal sector falls under the purview of state board education while the non-formal is affiliated to National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS); remedial centres receive Smile Foundation’s active collaboration to continue at their government or private schools. Currently, ME has branched out to 22 Indian states benefitting 47,000 children and hundreds of schools to improve retention rates and quality of meals.
Nutrition as an impetus to study harder
Over 975 students, enrolled at the ME centres, are now motivated by the likelihood of obtaining a full-plate. In West Bengal, ME has six centres proactively working towards eradicating hunger and malnutrition. West Bengal ranks 8 in India State Hunger Index which could be effectively combated by Smile Foundation’s initiative. The scheming allows students, irrespective of schools’ affiliations, avail Smile Foundation’s exclusive support model. It is a stepping-stone towards making nutrition a basic right for students belonging to families of daily wage earners. Students are also made to address gaps in hygiene practices followed by the meal. Besides ME’s mouth-watering menu, snacks such as ladoo and cakes are also provided. West Bengal’s Smile Foundation exceeds beyond a stomach full of savoury plate. It is engaged with schools to supply essentials like smart boards and teachers as required.