An India-based nonprofit, The Breakfast Revolution, has announced it has launched a U.S.-based branch to help in the fight to end malnutrition in India, the organization said.
Founded in 2014 by the mother-son team of Neelam Jethwani and Dr. Pankaj Jethwani, The Breakfast Revolution, a registered nonprofit, has a vision to end malnutrition in India by running malnutrition treatment programs for schools, anganwadis, hospitals, NGOs, orphanages and more in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
At the heart of the program are innovative snacks that provide 100 percent of the vitamins and minerals a child lacks in his or her diet, along with as much vegetarian protein as two-to-three eggs which cost between 10 to 15 cents per meal, the company said in a news release.
Additionally, the program includes health check-ups, de-worming and nutritional education to improve hygiene and food choices at home. The organization boasts it is able to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of malnourished individuals.
Since its inception The Breakfast Revolution has served more than 5 million meals to 50,000 malnourished children and women, with more than 70 percent of the children on the program showing significant improvement in their health within six months.
“Four years ago, my mother and I set out on a journey to find a meaningful and scalable solution to fight malnutrition,” physician Pankaj Jethwani told India-West. “As a physician in a Government hospital in Mumbai, I was able to understand the sheer gravity of the problem of malnutrition. Eight out of 10 patients I would see were malnourished. This reduced their overall quality of life and chances of survival.”
From what Jethwani found, noting that 50 percent of children in India are malnourished and nine in 10 girls anemic, the duo started TBR to fight the epidemic.
“We have developed extremely low-cost nutritious meals that are served as breakfasts in schools, orphanages, and hospitals,” the younger Jethwani said. “These meals cover what is missing in the child's daily diet: proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Children love their taste – they don't taste like medicine.”
Jethwani credited the Indian diaspora for their support as The Breakfast Revolution was being built up. He added that Indian American philanthropists Arun Bhansali and Dr. Shirish Patrawalla's mentorship led to the organization launching in the U.S.
"The goal is to build new partnerships with U.S.-based technical experts, philanthropists, and impact investors to fight malnutrition in India," he told India-West. Overall, the organization hopes to double its reach in 2018 to reach and help 100,000 malnourished individuals. By 2022, Jethwani said the hope is scale up to reach 1 million malnourished people and generate 5 million nutrition records via the malnutritiontracker.org to build clinical evidence for effective management of malnutrition.
Jethwani started his career as a primary care physician in Mumbai’s JJ Group of Hospitals. Through this experience, he witnessed first-hand the gaps in healthcare delivery in government clinics and hospitals in India, which account for almost half of all care delivered in the country, according to his bio.
Motivated to bring about reform in this system, he joined The Boston Consulting Group’s Social Impact and Development Practice in New Delhi. There, he helped build BCG’s work with government agencies to improve delivery of healthcare at scale, it said.
The Social Impact and Development Practice now works with state governments in India to help transform their primary health delivery systems.
During his work with primary care systems, Jethwani, a graduate of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and currently enrolled in the M.B.A. program at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, realized the large void in affordable solutions to fight the epidemic of malnutrition in India. He co-founded The Breakfast Revolution to manufacture and distribute low-cost, tasty and fortified foods to organizations that work with malnourished children, women, and patients with TB, HIV and cancer.
Jethwani notes that the government-sponsored Mid-Day Meal program, though well-intentioned, lacks nutritive value. Volunteers for The Breakfast Revolution discovered malnourishment in students who were beneficiaries of the program.
“Even as India’s economic growth over the last two decades has made us proud, the epidemic of malnutrition remains unabated,” the organization said in a news release.
The expansion of the organization into the U.S. is a way to help expedite the reach to as many individuals in India suffering from malnourishment.
“Now is an exciting time for us – we have growing scientific evidence that our program works. Let us join hands to strengthen India’s national resource and future assets – its children,” Bhansali said in a statement.
The Breakfast Revolution has developed 12 Indian Food Drug Administration-approved food products. Jethwani said the organization knows how to “effectively treat malnutrition in different geographies, age-groups and clinical conditions.” He added that TBR wants to generate and share clinical evidence with the broader community in India and beyond.
“But to get there, we need the support of the Indian diaspora,” he said. “With the 501c3, we wish to further mobilize the support of the Indian diaspora in our journey to end malnutrition. We hope to get support from U.S.-based philanthropists, experts in nutrition, medicine and technology, and innovators.
“With our collective action, we can give our future generations an equal opportunity to achieve their fullest potential,” he added. More information can be found by visiting www.thebreakfastrevolution.org.