India is one of the 21st century’s great economic success stories. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, the nation has catapulted itself into the globalized economy and is now ranked the ninth biggest economy by nominal GDP.
The recent history of India, however, is not entirely a success story. Though sophisticated enough to develop a nuclear and space program, India sadly has endemic childhood hunger and malnutrition among its 1.2 billion citizens.
How bad is the problem? Unfortunately, the most recent data from UNICEF paints a dour picture: one in three malnourished children on our planet is living in India. The prevalence of child malnutrition in India is worse than Sub-Saharan Africa. A recent survey of 100 focus districts in India by the Naandi Foundation found that 42 percent of children under five years of age are severely or moderately underweight.
The Indian government is aware of rampant childhood hunger within its borders. Indeed, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared the situation as “unacceptable”. Since 1975, the Indian government has combatted childhood malnutrition with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program, a social welfare scheme focused on promoting health for children under six and their mothers. Still, although the program has undeniably helped millions of children over the last decades, the ongoing childhood hunger epidemic points to an urgent need for more relief.
2 Degrees is very proud to announce its newest non-profit giving partner, the Akshaya Patra Foundation, through which we have already donated 100,000 meals to hungry children in the Indian state of Karnataka. This partnership marks an expansion in our giving efforts, from solely Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) to also freshly prepared, hot meals which are produced by Akshaya Patra in kitchens across the India.
Akshaya Patra distributes these meals as free lunches in Indian schools, a strategy which not only combats childhood hunger but also encourages the youth to attend school and get an education. It’s a win-win, and 2 Degrees is thrilled to be supporting Akshaya’s operations via our one-for-one social enterprise.
In March 2012, will run a targeted series of samplings and promotions through Whole Foods markets in select regions of the United States. Purchases in these promotions will trigger the donation of one meal specifically to the Akshaya Patra Foundation, thereby allowing 2 Degrees supporters to make a simple, healthy choice that supports our efforts to feed children in India.
Let’s work together to make a difference in India in 2012!
(photo by Meena Kadri)