For decades, India has struggled with malnutrition even as 30% of the population mentions moderate or severe food insecurity while over 3 million children in India are malnourished. Goonj has been redefining how the impact on hunger can be tackled not just 'for' but most innovatively 'by' the most vulnerable populations in the world with grassroots communities leading a ground-up, common masses and their wisdom-led solutions.
This people-powered-ecosystem approach has made the disadvantaged people of India become prime stakeholders and actors in solving the issue of hunger and malnutrition not as "beneficiaries" of the goodwill, intellect, and efforts of the rest of the world but as prime drivers of resources, skills, and services needed to create change on this issue.
Across the country, village communities, in the deep interiors of rural India come together to develop kitchen gardens to combat their own problem of malnutrition and hunger.
Kitchen Garden in schools - A few years ago in some parts of India parents, teachers, and the whole community talked about the need for more vegetables in the school mid-day meals to make them more nutritious. The idea of developing kitchen gardens on the school premises was born when Goonj teams held several rounds of discussions with the schools, parents, and communities as part of Goonj's School-To-School (S2S) initiative.
All the stakeholders, including school staff, children, guardians, teachers, and people who live near a school took an active part not just in making the garden but also in its upkeep. These gardens have since emerged and flourished as people took charge to ensure that the best vegetables made it to the kitchen when preparing MDMs. There were instances when children became the garden's custodians!
Kitchen Gardens for women's wellbeing; Every year as Goonj holds hundreds of Chuppi Todo Baithak's (Break the Silence Meetings), women have spoken about their nutrition and its connection with their menstrual health. When we asked women to take action against this issue, Kitchen Gardens emerged as a viable option for having a more nutritious diet, also breaking some taboos!!
"The women of Kandhamal district in Odisha work in paddy fields for most of the year. In a Chuppi Todo Baithak (Break the Silence Meeting), they spoke about the hurting menstrual taboos of being barred from working in the fields during their period. Talking about their health, lack of a nutritious diet emerged as a big challenge.. These women decided to build a kitchen garden using a nearby unused piece of land. In just a few days over 40 women converted 3 acres of land into their very own kitchen garden!! With help from our team, they planted various local vegetables and fruit seeds. In just a few weeks, they will have fresh vegetables to make their own food, ensuring better nutrition and some extra left to sell for extra income," one of the team members from Goonj shared.
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