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Promotion of the Feeding Minds and Fighting Hunger Initiative in Selected Rural Schools in Andhra Pradesh, India

Bamji, Mahtab S., Murthy, P. V. V. S.
Food and Agriculture Organization, animal products, corn, diet, food security, fruit products, households, hunger, malnutrition, models, nutrients, nutrition knowledge, questionnaires, rice, school children, schools, social factors, teachers, vegetables, India
Schoolchildren are good agents of change and need to be educated and sensitized to specific issues of hunger and malnutrition through a question-and-answer process. Feeding Minds and Fighting Hunger (FMFH), a global project initiated by the Food and Agriculture Organization and partner organizations, attempts to help schoolchildren learn about these issues by introducing concepts in the prevention of hunger and malnutrition to teachers, and by facilitating transfer of knowledge to the children through a set of model lessons. To test the feasibility of the FMFH approach to improve the nutrition knowledge of rural schoolchildren in three rural schools in Medak District of the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Participatory workshops for teachers were conducted to facilitate knowledge transfer to the children through interactive classroom teaching and other activities. The change in knowledge and thinking of children in the seventh and eighth grades was assessed by a questionnaire administered before and after the intervention. The questionnaire also assessed, in part, the status of local food security based on the sources of different food items in the households. The responses to the questionnaire suggested that the children's knowledge of nutrients and their functions was not good initially but improved after the intervention. However, their understanding of the social factors responsible for hunger and malnutrition was fairly good prior to the intervention. Improvement in responses to the question of what should be done to combat malnutrition also occurred after intervention. The community had village-level food security for rice and maize but depended partially or fully on outside sources for pulses, fruits and vegetables, and animal products. The FMFH approach can be applied in rural schools where “the poorest of the poor” children can improve their understanding of balanced diets, better nutrition, the causes of malnutrition, and approaches to combat malnutrition.