Caring for vulnerable children living in the slums and villages of India

GPM  humanitarian projects

GPM Humanitarian Projects

GPM has created a series of interventions in the Mumbai slums to help alleviate poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and child labor.

Mumbai is home to over seven million children under the age of 14 who are growing up in abject poverty. The World Health Organization estimates that about 49 per cent of the world's underweight children and 34 per cent of the world's malnourished children live in India. Education is the key to reducing these figures. However, in Mumbai, because food is scarce and the primary focus is on day-to-day survival, there is tremendous pressure on children – even as young as four years old – to work. Slum children work as rag pickers, sewage cleaners and other unhealthy and dangerous jobs, earning a few cents a month in order to stave off their families’ hunger. Education and literacy are put off as parents struggle to balance the immediate needs for family survival of the family over the need of a child to grow, develop, and study in order to build a different life.   

The GPM solution to this problem is simple but powerful: eat to learn. GPM provides hot, nutritious meals to children attending school. The children, studying in classes run by the award-winning organization REAP, now have tremendous incentives to go to school. Not only do they receive the education that they need to end the cycle of poverty, but they also receive warm, wholesome meals that keep their minds and bodies healthy and strong. The GPM solution of providing meals for children in school addresses both short-term and long-term needs of the children. The immediate need of hunger relief is achieved, malnutrition is abated, and a sound education is established to help promote a better life for children of the slums.

Moreover, nutrition has a tremendous impact on every aspect of child development, including cognitive development. Proper nutrition is essential to learning, thinking, and cognitive perception. Young children’s development is particularly sensitive to the effects of an inadequate diet. Research shows links between nutrition and brain development, cognitive function, curiosity, behavior, and communication and social skills. By providing daily nutrition, GPM is providing children with basic tools for good health, cognition and development.

In 2012-13, GPM provided daily fresh, nutritious, hot meals to 500 children ages 4-14 

In 2013-14, GPM provided daily fresh, nutritious, hot meals to 750 children ages 4-14 attending classes, a total of 180,000 meals. This was an increase of 50% over 2012.

In 2014-15, GPM will increase by 25% in the number of children served on a daily basis, from 750 children to 1000. This expansion will include 250 preschool children, for whom the importance of nutrition for basic health and nutrition is crucial.
These 250 children, aged 3-5, who are attending preschools in the Mumbai slums, do not have regular daily meals and many are malnourished and all are underfed.  As a result, their growing little bodies and minds lack the basic nutrients they need to develop properly. The damage incurred by not having the basic nutrition they need at this tender age is potentially enormous, and may adversely affect them for their entire lives.

In addition, GPM is adding fruit to the menu, in order to strengthen the nutritional impact of the meals.

The impact of this program is significant: REAP reported a 50% increase in attendance rates due to the GPM program.
According to the US National Library of Medicine-National Institutes of Health, chronic mal-nutrition in ages 3-5 (in India) is linked to slower cognitive development and serious health impairments later in life that reduce children’s quality of life, as well as long-term malnutrition and stunting. (see full report here)

To contribute to "Eat to Learn" nutrition program, click here