Millions of children in India risk being deprived of a good education because of hunger. Poverty means they often go to school on an empty stomach, making it hard for them to concentrate, and malnutrition can mean they don’t even make it to the classroom – they either cannot face the journey or need to work to buy food for their families.
But over the last 20 years Akshaya Patra has been trying to change that by ensuring almost two million children get a free school meal each day. The organisation is the world’s largest school lunch programme and it has been chosen as the winner of the The Food Chain’s Global Champion Award 2019.
In this episode we visit one of its giant kitchens in Bangalore to find out what it takes to feed that many students, and we hear from teachers and children about the impact it’s having. Plus we hear one remarkable story about how a simple meal changed a child’s life, and speak to the organisation’s boss about his plans to scale up even further.
(Picture: School children eating lunch. Credit: Akshaya Patra)
Finding a food champion: The finalists
The world faces a daunting challenge - how to feed a growing population without harming the planet, our economies, or our health. With a billion people still going hungry, obesity and diabetes on the rise, and warnings of a climate change emergency, how can we change our food system for the better?
Emily Thomas meets four remarkable people and projects trying to meet that challenge, from cheap and nutritious meals aimed at increasing school attendance in Kenya to campaigns cutting out millions of tonnes of food waste.
They were all nominated by our World Service audience to win The Food Chain’s Global Champion Award, which recognises people changing the way we deal with our food for the better. Our international panel of judges, headed by the writer, cook and Netflix star Samin Nosrat, considered entries from all over the globe. This week we meet the inspiring shortlist.
(Picture: [clockwise from top left] A farmer and CGIAR scientist in Nepal; Richard Swannell, development director at WRAP; Lucy May, co-founder of The Organic Cookery School; and Wawira Njiru, founder of Food4Education. Credit: CGIAR; WRAP; Lucy May; Wawira Njiru.)
Samin Nosrat: My life in five dishes
The award-winning star of Netflix series 'Salt, Fat, Acid Heat' and author of the best-selling cookbook of the same name tells us about her life through five of her most memorable dishes.
The Iranian-American writer and cook has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the last few years, but has struggled to come to terms with that success and says she still feels like an impostor and outsider.
She very nearly took a completely different career path - she tells Emily Thomas that her dream was always to be a poet until a magical experience at a fine-dining restaurant changed everything.
Even now, though, she doesn't aspire to run a restaurant or establish a culinary empire - she doesn't like the person she becomes when put in charge of a team of chefs.
This episode was recorded at The Cookery School at Little Portland Street.
(Picture: Samin Nosrat. Credit: BBC)
Could candy be the next target in the global fight against rising levels of obesity and diabetes? Dozens of governments have already imposed taxes on sugary drinks, and now some are considering doing the same with sweets. So how worried are confectionery companies and what can they do about it?
How do you replace or even reduce candy’s key component, and can you do so without causing upset? We hear how consumers don’t take kindly to their favourite treats being messed with, even when they taste the same. Plus, could the war on sugar provide an opportunity for manufacturers to develop sweets with more of a medicinal role?
Simon Tulett speaks to three firms: Nestle; Parle Products in India; and Turkish Delight specialist Haci Bekir in Istanbul.
(Picture: A smashed lollipop. Credit: Getty Images)
Food on the streets: London and Los Angeles
How do you eat when you have no home? Nowhere to store food, nowhere to cook, no table to eat at?
In this episode we are with homeless people in two of the world’s most prosperous cities - London and Los Angeles - to talk about how they feed themselves.
This is a tale of two cities - a surprising story perhaps of the abundance of food in the most deprived parts of society. What does it tell us about our global food supply chain?
(Photo: Homeless man looks out on LA and London streets. Credit: BBC/Getty Images)