Hunger is a pervasive issue around the world. It affects communities—especially the children—in immeasurable ways. In India, two in five children face undernutrition, which can lead to illness, stunting, and delayed physical and mental development.
Supporting rural children in India who face food insecurity are the Anganwadis—government- run childcare centers that combat hunger and malnutrition for children ages 6 and under. In addition to a preschool education, children receive supplemental meals and learn about nutrition.
Thousands of children in rural Kerala depend on the Anganwadis for their meals, but many of these facilities had old equipment in need of repair. Working in broken down and unhygienic kitchens, caring teachers and staff did their best to give the children the support they needed, but were unable to serve them the way they deserved. Knowing how important Anganwadis were to their communities, Lions took action. They turned to Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), which awarded them a US$84,225 Hunger grant and a US$11,118 District and Club Community Impact grant.
With support from LCIF, Lions refurbished the kitchen and dining facility in more than 80 Anganwadis throughout Kerala. They renovated kitchens with stainless steel countertops and sinks, replaced plumbing, added worktables with stovetops and installed refrigerators—all to ensure that the children would have fresh and healthy food. They also installed stainless steel dining tables and benches in the dining rooms for ease of cleaning and increased sanitation. Nearly 900 Lions participated to help install the upgraded equipment, and they continue to monitor the facilities to ensure everything functions as it should.
Though the project took place during the pandemic, Lions persevered by adhering to safety protocols and worked with the government and teachers to open the facilities to receive kitchen and dining installations.
“The most modern and hygienic equipment, along with a refrigerator, were unimaginable to these centers without your support,” said V.P. Sajeendran, Kerala legislative member of Kunnathunad. “I appreciate LCIF for enabling Lions to implement such a project, which is a dire need of the community.”
The 2,250 children who depend on the Anganwadis each year will now be able to enjoy fresh and healthy meals cooked in a clean, hygienic environment. And parents and teachers can rest assured that their children will learn and thrive in a safe, nurturing environment.