By Aruna Kumar Das, Block Coordinator
Nutrition is important at every age. Children need proper nutrients to stay healthy, strong and grow up. There are many government schemes which ensure that children eat nutritious food in their formative years. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is one such scheme which ensures every child aged 3-6 years eats a nutritious Hot Cooked Meal (HCM) for 6 days in a week. This HCM is provided at the nearest Anganwadi Centre (AWC).
But many villages in Angul district of Odisha are situated far away from an AWC, hence depriving many of the children of their entitled HCM.
Kulasingha is one such village in Angul. It is a revenue village which comes under Balijeranga Anganwadi Centre of Saradhapur Gram Panchayat in Angul. The village is situated 10 kilometers away from the nearest Anganwadi Centre. The village boasts a lot of natural beauty that includes forests, mountains etc. Most of the villagers depend on agriculture, daily wage labour and small business for their livelihood.
There are nine children aged 3-6 years who are not able to avail the HCM because of the distance between their village and the AWC. The Anganwadi worker took the lead and spoke to the Self-help group members to provide the Hot cooked meal at the village level. Though some of them were ready for it but it needed a little more push to ensure that the arrangement of providing Hot cooked meal at the village level could begin soon.
The AWW asked APAA members to help her motivate the SHG members. APAA members attended a motivational and awareness meeting with around forty members from seven SHGs. After the meeting, Maa Tarini SHG members agreed to cook HCM without any remuneration because of the combined effort by the AWW and APAA members.
The SHG members also agreed to share the utensils and the members have been taking turns to cook at their house since September 9, 2019. The meals are being served at Kotha Ghar, which is a common area in the village at 11 am except Sunday. The rations is being provided to the SHG member by the AWW and government guidelines are being followed strictly.
One member from the self-help group has also been going from door-to-door to gather the children for the meal.
The children enjoy their food and their mothers were happy that they are able to avail Anganwadi services at the village level even though the Anganwadi Centre is situated far away.
(As per the guideline, on five days in a week, children will be given egg with rice and vegetable curry. On Mondays, they will be given Dalma (a mix of green vegetables and Dal). A price of Rs.7.70 per child per day is earmarked by the government for eggs, rations and wood which will be supplied to prepare a Hot Cooked Meal.)