Colourful celebrations for nourishing minds


By GV News Desk

29 September 2023

Children, adolescent girls, mothers, caregivers, and the Anganwadi Worker (AWW) from Mitrapur Village in Kankia Gram Panchayat, Kukudakhandi Block, in Ganjam District, celebrated Poshan Maah. The annual Rashtriya Poshan Maah is celebrated in the entire month of September. In 2023, the focus is on cultivating practices that foster nutritional awareness, health and immunity against diseases and malnutrition under the theme “Suposhit Bharat, Sakshar Bharat, Sashakt Bharat.”

A flagship initiative by the Government of India (GoI), Poshan Maah seeks to raise awareness about critical life stages, including pregnancy, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, to enhance grassroots nutritional awareness and understanding.

This year’s theme is locally relevant, with a high prevalence of malnutrition cases among tribal hamlets of Odisha. In areas with access to Anganwadi centres, platforms like Poshan Maah significantly complement the year-round efforts of Anganwadi and other frontline workers in delivering comprehensive healthcare services, maternal and child care, and promoting community health.

Gram Vikas partnered with the WASH Nutrition Resource Group (Central Support Team), along with field staff working under the theme of Sanitation and Health to kickstart the Poshan Maah event at Mitrapur on September 16, 2023, with an informative session by the Anganwadi Worker.

Highlighting the significance of nutrition from birth to 2 years of age, she emphasised feeding the child within the first few hours of birth since the milk at that time is rich in colostrum (consisting of antibodies), followed by exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued with complementary feeding up to rest of the month till two years. She spoke about the chain of nutritional intake and meeting the dietary needs with regular doses of supplements provided at the Anganwadi centre. She also created awareness about the services offered by the Anganwadi centre in the village, including Take Home Ration (THR) for mothers and Hot Cooked Meals (HCM) for children, featuring items like eggs and chatua / sattu, made by dry-roasting cashew, almond, millet, barley and chickpea and grinding to a fine flour.

Before the start of the session, adolescent girls from the village and the Anganwadi worker created colourful rangoli, symbolising community celebration. Theme-based interactive games actively engaged children and the youth at the event, which got them to visualise the food they typically consume at home, identify the food on their plates based on their colours and encourage them to recall and imagine a well-balanced plate with diverse colours. The emphasis on a plate with various colourful foods over a monotonous one with plain rice encouraged children to think about and relate to dietary diversity through colours.

Mothers discussed the accessibility of Anganwadi centres that provide easy access to food items with rich nutritional value and tap into the community’s knowledge and recipes for healthy cooking. Conversations also revolved around meal frequency, ration consumption, and ensuring iron and folic acid intake through tablets and natural sources for menstruating girls and pregnant women.

Participants engaged in discussions regarding personal and kitchen hygiene, proper handling of safe water, and the importance of thorough handwashing. Furthermore, the session aimed to increase awareness regarding health checkups, nutritional tracking, vaccination for both children and mothers, and immunisation, all of which are crucial for safeguarding the entire community’s well-being.

Opportunities for such convergence between civil society organisations such as Gram Vikas and government functionaries at the village level go a long way in empowering people in building optimal health-seeking behaviour, thus improving health both at an individual family level and community level.

Reported by Akanksha Awasthi, Junior Manager in the WASH Nutrition Resource Group (WNRG).

Celebrating Rashtriya Poshan Maah with the residents of Mitrapur village in Ganjam district.

Photograph by Rufus Sunny


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