Gandhi made the news recently by opposing her own ministry into wanting to convert these to factory made packets instead of sourcing local food items and ingredients. Citing food safety she has pushed for a powdered formula that can be mixed with regular meals.

 

 

To

Ms. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Minister

Ministry of Women and Child Development

Govt. of India

 

Dear Madam,

 

We write to you to express our concerns regarding your plan to convert all take home rations given by Anganwadi centres to children in the age group of 6 months to 3 years and pregnant and lactating women, with “energy-dense, factory-made nutrient packets”, as has been reported by the media. Such a move would open doors for private contractors and suppliers, taking control over what is given in Anganwadi centres in a decentralised manner.

Children need adequate quantities of wholesome, diverse foods to grow and develop. These foods should meet their requirements of various nutrients, as well as calories. Lack of enough food, especially diverse food, means that children are unable to meet their nutritional requirements. The “supplementary nutrition programme” (SNP) under ICDS is expected to play an important role in combating child malnutrition. As shown by NFHS-4 data, less than 10% of children under two years in our country are currently receiving adequate diet[1], highlighting the urgent need to take measures to ensure dietary diversity and appropriate care and feeding for young children. Introducing nutrient packets would take us away from the objective of moving towards dietary diversity.

In the context of increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in India, experts have been warning us against excessive use of processed and ultra-processed foods. In a recent International Conference on the double burden of malnutrition held in Delhi, a number of country experiences were presented where successful strategies to combat malnutrition included supporting local food systems, improving livelihoods and access to healthy foods.

For years, the Right to Food Campaign has been fighting the battle against the role of private contractors in the supply of supplementary nutrition in the ICDS. In state after state it has been seen that the unholy nexus between the contractors and politicians/bureaucrats result in central contracts worth hundreds of crores for supply of food to ICDS. The quality of food supplied to the centres is compromised while companies make profits from the meagre allocation on supplementary nutrition. Recent scams related to the above have been brought to light in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The ICDS’s supplementary nutrition programme (SNP) serves a range of important purposes.  It not only provides quantitative supplementation by increasing children’s food intake but also enhances the quality of diets by giving them nutritious and diverse food items they may not get at home, such as vegetables, eggs, fruit, etc. The provision of nutritious, cooked meals at the Anganwadi is a form of “nutrition education” – it helps to convey what a nutritious meal looks like, and to spread the notion that children need require a regular and balanced intake of various nutrients. It provides the opportunity to create employment for local women as well as demand for local product such as vegetables, eggs, etc. All of this is possible only when the food is produced and distributed in a decentralised manner.

We are opposed to these repeated attempts to serve commercial interests in the supply of nutrition in ICDS. The Supreme Court orders related to banning private contractors must be strictly adhered to. Adequate allocations must be made to ensure diverse and nutritious food, including eggs, are provided to children in Anganwadi centres (in the form of hot cooked meals or take home rations depending on local conditions) in a decentralised manner. Local groups must be provided the training and support required to deliver nutritious and hygienic food.

Intervention to replace locally made food compromises decentralised autonomy and community control. They also detract from local livelihoods and take away the option of using local foods and recipes many of which have good nutritional value. It also violates the Act which gives responsibility to the State Governments to “implement schemes covering entitlements under sections 4, 5 and section 6 in accordance with the guidelines, including cost sharing, between the Central Government and the State Governments.”

 

Large, global and national food corporations see children’s hunger and malnourishment as a source of profits and are trying to influence government policy towards providing packaged foods. We request you not to give in to the interest of profit and continue to abide by the letter and spirit of the National Food Security Act in providing locally made take home rations to children in the Anganwadi centres.

 

Thank you.

 

With regards,

 

We are,

 

  1. Aabida – Advocate, New Delhi
  2. Action India, New Delhi
  3. Aditya Srivastava – Advocate
  4. Adivasi Adhikar Samiti – Chhattisgarh
  5. Ajay K Jha – PAIRVI
  6. Ajay Naskar, BMCDM, Kolkata
  7. Alex Ekka, Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi
  8. All India Democratic Women’s Association
  9. All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers
  10. All India Progressive Women’s Association
  11. Alliance for People’s Rights, New Delhi
  12. Alpana Nai – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  13. Amar Jesani
  14. Amita De, Secretary, Shramajivi Mahila Samity
  15. Ankita Aggarwal – Right to Food Campaign Secretariat
  16. Ann Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan – Gujarat
  17. Anwar Haque – Aman Biradari
  18. Archana Srivastava – – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  19. Aruna Rodrigues, Madhya Pradesh
  20. Asha Mishra –Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
  21. Asima – New Delhi
  22. Asha Kilaru, Public Health Researcher
  23. Astha Samiti – Kawardha, Chhattisgarh
  24. Aysha, New Delhi
  25. Bhanu Chauhan – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  26. Bhavika Patil – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  27. Bhavna Rajput – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  28. Bhuvaneswari Sunil – Common Health, CMNHSA
  29. Bidyut Mohanty
  30. Chandubhai Vankar – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  31. Charm Shakeel – Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Bihar
  32. Charul – Loknaad, Gujarat
  33. Chhaya Pachauli, Prayas (Rajasthan)
  34. Chirashree Ghosh, Mobile Crèches
  35. CS Verma, JSAUP
  36. Debmalya Nandy, Jharkhand, Right to Food Campaign
  37. Denny John –  Evidence Synthesis Specialist, Campbell Collaboration, New Delhi
  38. Devika Singh – Mobile Crèche’s, New Delhi
  39. Dheeraj Bharat – Gurunanak Dev University
  40. Dileep Vankar – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat
  41. Dilli Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan
  42. Dilnavaz Variava, Sahayak Trust, Mumbai
  43. Dipa Sinha – Right to Food Campaign
  44. Dr Arun Gupta – Central coordinator BPNI, New Delhi
45. Dr. Antony PM – Tribal Research and Training Centre, Jharkhand

46. Dr. B Ekbal

47. Dr V Rukmini Rao, Executive Director, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad

48. Dr Vaishali Patil, Lok Manch Maharashtra

49. Dr. Adarsh Sharma – Former Director, NIPPCD

50. Dr. Indira Hirway, Director and Professor of Economics, Center for Development Alternatives

51. Dr Jacob Puliyel, MRCP, Paediatrician

52. Prof Dr K K Krishnamurthi, President, Indian Society for Certification of Organic Products (ISCOP)

53. Dr. Kashi Nath Chatterjee – General Secretary, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti

54. Dr. Mridul Eapen – Member Kerala State Planning Board, Trivandrum

55. Dr. Naveeda Khatoon –  National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development

56. Dr. Shanmugamvelayuthan – FORCES, Tamil Nadu

57. Dr. Shobha Suri – BPNI

58. Dr. Subodh Gupta (social paediatrician, MGIMS, Wardha)

59. Dr. Suresh – Praja Arogya Vedika

60. Dr. Vandana Prasad – Public Health Resource Network

61. Dr Vinay Kulkarni, PRAYAS Pune

62. Dunu Roy – Hazards Centre

63. Fr. Jothi SJ – Director Udayani Social Action Forum

64. Gyan Vigyan Samiti – Jharkhand

65. Guliben Nayak- Devgadh Mahila Sanghatan

66. HAQ – Centre for Child Rights

67. Harsh Kinger –  Living Farms, Odisha

68. Harsh Mander – Centre for Equity Studies

69. Jan Sahyogi Manch – Charama, Kanker Chhattisgarh

70. Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

71. Janjati Vikas Samiti, Raipur Balrampur, Chhattisgarh

72. Jashodhara Das Gupta – NFI

73. Javed – New Delhi

74. Jean Drèze, Ranchi University

75. Jeevika Shiv, Neeta Hardikar- Anna Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan, Gujarat

76. Jigisha – Alliance for Right to ECD

77. Jigisha A shastri, Bangalore

78. Jignesh Jadav – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

79. Jyotsana Parmar – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

80. Kalpana Mahadik – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

81. Kamlesh Khantwal – Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Uttarakhand

82. Kandala, Public Health Resource Network

83. Kapil Shah, Jatan, Gujarat

84. Kathyayini Chamaraj – CIVIC, Bangalore

85. Kavita Srivastava – Right to Food Campaign

86. Kavitha – The Sahayak Trust

87. Kavitha Kuruganti – Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture

88. Khushboo Singhania, Bosch Ltd, Bangalore

89. Krishna Damor – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

90. Kumar Sanjay, Right to Food Campaign, Ranchi, Jharkhand

91. Leni Chaudhuri, Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, Mumbai

92. Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch – Gujarat

93. Mamta Jaitley – Vividha Features, Jaipur

94. Manushi Sheth – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

95. Maternal Health Rights Campaign – Madhya Pradesh

96. Md. Maroof – Alshifa Hospital, New Delhi

97. Mithilesh Kumar, Video Volunteers

98. Moushumi Bhowmik, Independent Artist, Researcher, Kolkata

99. Mridula Bajaj, New Delhi

100. Mubashira Zaidi – ISST, New Delhi

101. Muneer Mammi Kutty – Public Health Resource Network

102. Parveen – New Delhi

103. Pashchim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti

104. Nachiket Udupa

105. Nadeem – New Delhi

106. Nagarathna B M and Team, Asare – Rural Women Voluntary Organisation, Karnataka

107. NAMHHR

108. Nandini Nayak – Ambedkar University, Delhi

109. National Federation of Indian Women

110. NAZDEEK

111. Neenu Suresh – National Law School of India University

112. Neeta Panchal – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

113. Neetu Sharma – National Law School of India University

114. Neha Dhingra, Head of Knowledge Management, Surge Impact Foundation, Telangana

115. Nibedita Phukan, New Delhi

116. Niranjan Aradhya – CCL, NLSIU

117. Nisha – St. Stephen’s Hospital

118. Nitya Rao, Professor Gender and Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

119. Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI)

120. Organic Farmers Market, Chennai

121. Pallavi Gupta – Public Health Practitioner

122. Paul Lakra, Human Life Development and Research Centre, Matigara, West Bengal

123. People’s Budget Initiative (PBI)

124. Prithvi, Bangalore

125. Rabindranath Chakrabarty, TUCC, West Bengal

126. Radhika Desai – Hyderabad

127. Rajendran N – Azim Premji University

128. Ranjeet Kindo, Tribal Research and Training Centre, Chaibasa, West Singhbhum

129. Rakhi Sehgal – Labour Research Collective, New Delhi

130. Ravi Duggal – Public Health Researcher and Activist

131. Rekha Macwana – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

132. Rekha Sharma Sen – New Delhi

133. Renu Khanna – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

134. Restore, Chennai

135. Right to Food Campaign –  Chhattisgarh

136. Right to Food Campaign – Bihar

137. Right to Food Campaign – Karnataka

138. Right to Food Campaign – Odisha

139. Right to Food Campaign – Tamil Nadu

140. Right to Food and Work Campaign – West Bengal

141. Ritu Dewan – Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

142. Rizu, Delhi

143. Rohit Parakh, India for Safe Food, Mumbai

144. Rosa Abraham, member, Bangalore Birth Network

145. Rukhiben Paggi- Panam Mahila Sanghatan

146. Sachin Jain – Right to Food Campaign, Madhya Pradesh

147. Safe Food Alliance, Tamil Nadu

148. SAHELI – New Delhi

149. Sampat – Action for the Rights of the Child

150. Sandipan Paul

151. Sanjeev Sinha

152. Sangeeta Macwan – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

153. Sangeeta – Health Watch Forum, UP

154. Santosh Mahindrakar – Innovative Alliance for Public Health

155. Sarojini N, New Delhi

156. Satnam Singh – Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

157. Sehjo Singh – Film Maker and Development Professional

158. Sejal Dand, Soma KP, Anita Paul, Ashalatha, Seema Kulkarni-Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch

159. Shakeel – Basti Suraksha Manch

160. Shakuntala Parmar – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

161. Shivani Shah and Ishteyaque Ahmed, Greenpeace India

162. Shraddha Chigateri– Bangalore

163. Siraj Dutta

164. Smita Sonvane – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

165. Sona Mitra – Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability

166. Suchitra Ram Kumar, Consumer Rights Activist

167. Sudeshna Sen Gupta, Campaign for Universal Maternity Entitlements

168. Sudhansu Chakrabarty, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, West Bengal

169. Sujit Adhikary, Co-coordinator, PPUS, West Bengal

170. Sulakshana Nandi –  JSA Chhattisgarh

171. Sumangala Damodaran

172. Sumitra Mishra, New Delhi

173. Sunanda Gamit – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

174. Sunita Singh – SAHAYOG, Lucknow

175. Swapna Naiya, on behalf of Paschim Banga Swarojgari Randuni Union

176. Swati Narayan – Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand

177. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai

178. Thalanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam, Madurai

179. Tharcharbu Iyakkam, Sirkali

180. Tony Herbert, Prerana, Hazaribagh

181. Uma Shankari. Rashtriya Raithu Seva Samithi, Chittoor, AP

182. Vaishali Zararia – SAHAJ, Vadodara Gujarat

183. Vandana Prasad – Public Health Resource Network

184. Vasanthi Raman – FORCES, New Delhi

185. Venita Kaul, Professor Emerita, Ambedkar University Delhi

186. Vikas – Advocate, New Delhi

187. Vrunda Vaze

188. Zakir – New Delhi

189. 181 Women Help Line Chhattisgarh

190. New Trade Union Initiative

191. Navjyoti Development Society

192. Maharashtra Rajya Anganwadi Karmachari Sangh

 

 

[1] Adequate diet is defined as Breastfed children receiving 4 or more food groups and a minimum meal frequency, non-breastfed children fed with a minimum of 3 Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices (fed with other milk or milk products at least twice a day, a minimum meal frequency that is receiving solid or semi-solid food at least twice a day for breastfed infants 6-8 months and at least three times a day for breastfed children 9-23 months, and solid or semi-solid foods from at least four food groups not including the milk or milk products food group).

 

 

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