Nestlé India has completed ten years of its flagship societal initiative, Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme. The programme contributes towards the overall development of adolescents as well as encourages healthier lifestyles in the communities, by arming them with the knowledge that impacts them in a meaningful way. Till date, the programme has reached out to nearly 2.8 lakh adolescents across 22 states.
In an exclusive interaction with Sanjay Khajuria, Director – Corporate Affairs, Nestlé India, he talks about the magnitude of impact they have created through this program, their future plans and most important initiatives for addressing malnutrition and obesity.
You have completed 10 years of your flagship initiative, the Nestle Healthy Kids programme. What kind of impact have you been able to create through this programme over the last decade?
Our flagship nutrition awareness programme, ‘Nestlé Healthy Kids’ started a decade back and we have continued to scale it with our university and NGO partners year after year. The programme aims to ensure beneficiaries adopt appropriate nutrition and physical activity habits, which are important for their development and learning ability. We have seen a visible impact over the last few years. There is an increase in children’s basic knowledge of the importance of nutrition and physical activity. Close to 3,00,000 beneficiaries have been encouraged to live healthier lives, by arming them with the knowledge that impacts them in a meaningful and permanent way. The change most visible is their ‘self-awareness’, their genuine willingness and their inclination towards better hygiene and nutrition.
We measure ourselves on not just numbers but also the significance of the impact. From 2015-2018:
- 29% more beneficiaries attending school regularly
- 18% increase in positive handwashing behaviour using soap
- 37% increase in consumption of green vegetables
- 18% rise in consumption of fruits at least 3 times a week
How do you plan to take this programme forward in the years to come? Will you be looking at introducing some new formats?
We believe that these 4Es, if put into action in a collaborative manner by all stakeholders, can have a real positive impact:
- Economic Foundation by investing more towards programmes aimed at improving the beneficiary’s health.
- Enablement by building nutritionally enabled society.
- Excellence in all the interventions aimed at beneficiaries.
- Empowerment to beneficiaries
India has been reeling under the burden of problems like malnutrition and obesity. How critical do you think initiatives like these are for addressing such issues?
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS – 4), in India, 38 per cent of children under age five years are stunted. This is a sign of chronic undernutrition. 21 per cent of children under age five years are too thin for their height, which is a sign of acute undernutrition, while 36 per cent of children under age five years are underweight. Further, 59 % of children had some degree of anaemia.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle during the early years of life ensures healthy living and lesser health issues associated with old age. Therefore, good nutrition is especially important due to the biological, psychosocial and cognitive changes that begin during puberty and continue throughout adolescence, directly affecting nutritional status and needs Education is a powerful tool for ensuring that children understand the value of nutrition and physical activity and continue leading healthy lives as they grow older. Nestlé India through its collaborative partnerships works towards creating awareness amongst parents, caregivers, teachers and adolescents to adopt a healthy lifestyle
Do you feel that companies in the food and beverage space need to play a larger role in improving the current nutritional status of India?
We at Nestlé believe that nutrition is a fundamental right of all of humanity and the food industry has a vital role to play in helping enable healthier lives
Healthy citizens make a nation great and strong. Nutritional awareness and providing need-based nutrition, therefore, are of paramount importance to improve health standards.
Under the Programme, community youth leaders and youth mentors are responsible for implementing the sessions in these communities and schools and train them to deliver the curriculum on the ground.
Apart from the Nestle Healthy Kids programme, what are the other initiatives you have undertaken as a company to spread awareness on nutrition?
Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme along with other nutrition awareness programmes in communities along with programmes on water, sanitation, rural development and sustainability have touched close to 5 million beneficiaries.
Project JAGRITI is another initiative which focuses on developing community support for improved health and nutrition outcomes among adolescents, young couples and caregivers while improving the uptake of public health services. It has positively impacted the lives of 4.6 million beneficiaries (1.5 million direct reach and 3.1 million people benefitted indirectly).
Our programs on providing clean drinking water and sanitation facilities have touched over 136,000 students.
We are also working closely with Dairy and Coffee farmers on improving the quality and quantity of the yields.
We also recently launched a new project in Nuh, Haryana called Vriddhi. The project will adopt an integrated approach focusing on various aspects of rural well-being including improving the delivery of public services related to health, education and sanitation, water conservation and improving farm livelihoods.