For Maharashtra’s tribal children, ashramshalas are a second home. They provide these children with hot meals four times a day, education and sometimes, even a safe place to stay. Thus, the state government's Tribal Development Department (TDD) is working to improve the health of these children otherwise plagued by anaemia, stunting and wasting.
India provides food security to 81 crore people and in doing so, there is limited scope for targeted focus on tribal populations, particularly when it comes to last mile delivery.
To ensure and enrich the nutritional adequacy of the meals thus provided, the Tata Trusts partnered with TDD to set up two centralised kitchens under the Annapurna Centralized Kitchen (ACK) project, in September 2015. Since its launch, ACK has covered 22,000 children in 54 ashramshalas across the districts of Palghar and Nashik.
The programme has not only made a difference to the children’s lives, but also created a model for improved delivery for other states to follow.
The kitchens adhere to the highest standards of quality and hygiene, while preparing and transporting the meals that are designed to help alleviate conditions like anaemia, among others. The children have appreciated the change in menu and have begun to relish their food.
In order to ensure that all children in ashramshalas receive nutritious food through centralised kitchens, the Tata Trusts is now working with the TDD to help them adopt the programme to scale, in a sustainable manner.