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A unique initiative to put a spotlight on morning hunger

Dec 03, 2019

To combat morning hunger, Sesame Workshop India joins hands with Kellogg’s and The Breakfast Revolution in a collaborative initiative aptly called ‘Bright Start’.

New Delhi & Mumbai: Sesame Workshop India (SWI) with support from the Kellogg’s launched the Bright Start intervention in the slums of Mumbai. ‘Bright Start’ aims to encourage families and children in low-resource communities to adopt healthy eating habits especially eating a healthy breakfast in the morning.

Through a 6-month intensive on-ground engagement with 2000 families that will be supported by media and community events in Dharavi, the intervention will provide nutrition-specific information and create an enabling environment to adopt eating healthy breakfast.

Kellogg’s has pledged to provide a ‘Bright Start’ to 100,000 children from the underprivileged section of society by 2022 and 1 million children by 2025. ‘Bright Start’ educates communities about foods that are rich in protein, calcium, iron, and enriched with key Vitamin B Group, Vitamin C and zinc.

Research suggests that children find it hard to learn and stay on-task on an empty stomach. Over time, the lack of a nourishing meal in the morning leads to deficits in both cognitive and physical growth. The Global Nutrition Report, 2018*, indicates that more than half of India’s children under the age of 5 show visible signs of malnourishment. The early years lay the blueprint for health outcomes over a lifetime; these are precisely the years when brain growth is at its high, impacting the well-being of both, the individual and society.

To address the gross issue of nutrition deficit among children in India that occurs partly due to morning hunger and unhealthy eating habits, these organizations have collaborated with a primary goal of mobilizing and engaging communities and impacting children positively.

Sesame Workshop India sees early childhood development as a pathway for social change. Its innovative approach leverages the impact of media and the power of its endearing muppets, well-known as the cast of Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Indian adaptation of Sesame Street.

Through mass media, targeted community intervention and advocacy, Sesame has made a positive difference in areas as diverse as early literacy, WASH, socio-emotional learning, early financial literacy , and gender equality. This program embodies that mission and brings a spot of sunshine to 2000 families in Dharavi, Mumbai with a nutritious breakfast every morning. Supported by mass-media messaging, community training on healthy eating habits and tracking and monitoring of health indicators, it hopes to visibly demonstrate the huge difference morning nutrition can make.

Speaking on the occasion, Mohit Anand, MD, Kellogg India Private Limited said: “We believe no child should face the day on an empty stomach, as morning hunger is the enemy of learning. A child’s future starts with a nutritious breakfast. It’s not just the most important meal of the day. It’s the most important meal in their life. Bright Start is a spot of sunshine to the 5764 children at this stage and we hope to provide them with an equal opportunity at learning and meeting their aspirations and together nourish their potential.”

Speaking of the importance of the program in catalyzing change, Sonali Khan, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop India said: “If you want to impact health and learning for the long term, you have to start early. Even where resources are available, caregivers do not realize the far-reaching impact of nutritional choices they make for their children. By using the powerful Sesame Street muppets to raise awareness and build habits of appropriate nutrition and hygiene with both caregivers and children, we aim to help a generation of children grow up smarter and stronger.”

The partners see this as the beginning of a movement and hope to reach many more children over time. Additionally, Sesame Workshop India has partnered with CCDT (Committed Communities Development Trust) as its on-ground implementation partner in Dharavi.

With their resolve to train families to harness and hold on to the benefits of nutrition through simple habits like hand-washing, they intend to empower communities to break an intergenerational cycle of malnutrition. Wouldn’t you call that a Bright Start?

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