Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the ministry is planning to replace the existing supplementary nutrition programme, wherein states provide food through anganwadis to beneficiaries, with nutrient packets. She said, “I want to bring about a complete change, an out-of-box change. What we have till now is food which is not even calorie-dense. Secondly, our delivery system has always been dependent on anganwadis. Anganwadi stopped being an effective delivery system 20 years ago”.
She said that instead of food, the focus would be on nutrient packets that will provide 1,000 calories to pregnant and lactating mothers and 600 calories to children, adding that the packets would have a dry mixture of peanuts, millets and micro-nutrients which can be consumed with milk, lassi, juice, or water.
Experts like Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of Indian Council for Medical Research had a different opinion however, stating that “There is nothing to beat hot-cooked fresh food but one has to ensure quality and quantity. The packages are useful in feeding children with acute malnutrition. It should be seen as a therapeutic food and should not replace your normal diet.”