Once the heat waves were swept away to the east by the refreshing breeze, the sun looked down kindly on our glowing vegetable garden as we listened to the history of Chalakudy and its famous river, which flows musically along our cooking school in the midst of this fertile land. We are in the middle of a treasure where Nature embraces values of the golden past, and everything needs preserving for the future.

The aroma of old school meals journeyed a long way with me. The irony was that you had to be really poor to eat school lunches those days, yet that craving remained unfulfilled as I stepped into a local school to check what children eat during their lunch break these days. In America and England there have been a lot of talk about poor quality food in schools; equally it’s a long-standing problem in India too.

By inviting schools to participate in an awareness campaign, we interacted with teachers and offered to work together on their food issues. It was deplorable to apprehend the monthly budget of a child’s meal—only `8 per month, including milk and eggs once a week. Our kids eat insufficient and unbalanced meals during school hours, even in a village surrounded by agricultural land.

During the visit, our international guests happily gave language classes to children and suggested ways we could improve standards in the school. Even though we agreed to make a kitchen with some new facilities, the main concern was how to better the quality of meals with more nutritional balance. What could be more helpful is a thoughtful participation of parents to raise the spirit of schools to facilitate interesting variety of food.

It’s promising to hear that some school authorities in Kerala encourage farming in school yards and involve children in cultivation of vegetables. This has to gain more momentum to involve all schools and use every free space for growing vegetables.