Nagamani Chandramalla and her husband (Raju) work as agricultural labourers in Mukundayaram village in Andhra Pradesh. This seasonal employment sustains them for about three to six months. For the rest of the year, Nagamani makes ‘toddy baskets’. Occasionally, they also get work through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). However, to be eligible to work under, MGNREGS, job cards are required, which is not easy for Nagamani and Raju to acquire, since, officials often seek bribe for issuing job cards.Despite working from morning till dawn, her family income is rather paltry – not enough to support and raise their two children, Samanya, and Neeraja. While Samanya studies in Class I of MPPP (Special) School, while her younger daughter goes to the nearby Anganwadi centre. Nagamani often used to worry about feeding her children. However, she breathed a sigh of relief, when she found that Samanya was being given nutritious food in her school.
“My child Samanya’s health has improved. She has become active in studies and there is a steady growth. As a matter of fact, as a mother I have been observing her right from birth, but now she is healthier and active after the school started the supplementary nutrition programme,” says Nagamani. “I have never seen this happy and vibrant,” she adds
The supplementary nutrition initiative in Samanya’s school is being implemented by an NGO called ACTION- (Association for Rural & Tribal Development) and is being supported by Cargill and CAF India. “Another important change, I see is in the village, before introduction of this programme most of the parents had got their children enrolled at Residential Hostels based at faraway towns. Once this program started three years ago, all the parents brought their children back from the Hostels and got them registered at these two schools,” Nagamani says.
Over the past three years the initiative has address the issue of malnourishment, hunger and micronutrient deficiency of the under privileged school going children. During the project period, 253 children from 2 primary schools in Mukundavaram Village of Rajahmundry area of Andhra Pradesh were provided with nutrition supplement. This project has led to increased attendance levels, better health parameters, increase in weight & height. Also there has been drop in number of anaemic children.