In our twelfth standard Economics class, we learned about the cycle of poverty; which may remain unbroken for generations. I mean, think about it: a poor household means limited access to a lot of resources like food, water, education, and so on. This obviously affects their health and literacy, which limits their skill and productivity. Low incomes, large family sizes (ie, more mouths to feed), susceptibility to disease and poorer generations to come are an inevitable consequence. The cause of poverty becomes, to quote my Economics teacher, poverty itself, which only perpetuates poverty.
Education is one of the ways to break the cycle of poverty. However, as Maslow explained in his need hierarchy, more often than not, you have to satisfy the lower order needs (basic needs like food and shelter) before you can even dream of higher needs. Which is why the Midday Meals Scheme is extremely relevant and important for India’s children. It beautifully provides a solution to two interdependent needs.
Because, well, education on an empty stomach isn’t going to happen. It’s that simple. You cannot learn about fractions and photosynthesis when you haven’t had even a square meal a day. Chances are you won’t even feel like making an appearance in that classroom when you could be working odd jobs and making money to get that square meal, or provide for your family.
Or well, just for a second, forget about poverty and hunger but think about hunger by itself. Think about the last time you skipped breakfast and had to attend class. What were you thinking about? I remember my eyes constantly shifting to the clock, my mind already in the canteen thinking about what I’d get and nothing else entering my brain.
Classroom hunger defeats the purpose of classrooms and eliminating it is imperative. While midday meals give parents a reason to send their children to school… it also helps these children, if implemented adequately, benefit from the purpose of school. Food fuels the brain and clears the mind. For a lot of the children benefiting from the midday meals scheme, I’ve read that it may be their only meal of the day. Perhaps, a morning meal can also be worked out, and further such motives to benefit from classes and study beyond the minimum requirement. It will be a significant step toward breaking the cycle, once and for all.
This post is a part of the Akshaya Patra initiative, in which every blog post sponsors meals for an Akshaya Patra benficiary for a whole year! I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.