Nurturing KITCHEN GARDENS for a better life!
The State of World’s Children Report 2019 by UNICEF shows far too many of our children who do not get the diets they need, which is undermining their capacity to grow, develop and learn to their full potential. Realising the struggle of economically weaker families to provide appropriate nutrition to their children, United Way Bengaluru’s, Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program supported by HCL Foundation has significantly focused on improving the health and well-being of children and women.
Kitchen Gardens are a simple yet effective solution to address the nutritional needs of children and their mothers, who are equally vulnerable. The BLC program which is implemented in selected Anganwadi Centres, have encouraged and trained Anganwadi workers and helpers to grow Kitchen Gardens at their centres.
Execution of any concept needs a strong leader who believes in the vision of the idea and BLC’s promotion of Kitchen Garden struck a chord in the heart of Kumari who works at the Shanbhoganahalli Anganwadi at Anekal taluk in Bengaluru.
Kumari transformed the barren area at the Anganwadi Centre into a beautiful kitchen garden. Her ‘greening initiative’ at the Anganwadi Centre improved access to fresh and nutritious food among children, whose midday meal at the Anganwadi Centre included organic vegetables like spinach, radish and brinjal, grown in the premise.
"A health-driven society yields healthy & productive individuals. Starting the kitchen garden was a step towards it. Somebody has to start so that the others can follow & take lead”, is what motivated Kumari.
However, according to her, the success of the project needed the community’s support to take the idea forward to their homes. Engaging mothers in nurturing the Anganwadi kitchen garden was the first step. "I could have never imagined that I was capable of growing vegetables in my backyard and serve fresh food to my family”, said one of the mothers.
The harvest from the Anganwadi was distributed among many families who had lost their incomes during the Covid lockdown last year. The community understood the cost-effectiveness and sustainable health and environmental benefits of growing their kitchen gardens.
Thanks to the BLC team and Kumari whose green initiative helped to improve the health and well-being of children, pregnant women, mothers and community members. It reduced the domestic inequalities in malnutrition and helped women of the households to get access to quality food, feed a balanced diet to their children and also save around Rs. 250-300 per week on vegetables. The savings are very crucial for their families and have helped them to invest in their children’s education and increase the monthly savings of their families for a secure future.