Here's What To Put In Your Ration Pack
While procuring, packing and distributing food during a pandemic is not easy, here are some suggestions on how ration packets may be designed to provide a balanced meal.
Many individuals and organizations are engaged in food relief work in light of the COVID-19 crisis and other calamities such as cyclones and floods. While procuring, packing and distributing food materials in such situations is not easy, here are some suggestions on how ration packets may be designed to provide a balanced meal even during such conditions.
It may be hard to think about nutrition, when people are struggling to get access to even basic minimum food. However, COVID-19 has only highlighted the need to focus on nutrition. Many studies have shown that a healthy body with a strong immunity, developed through a healthy diet, is the best protection against the disease. Multiple advisories are recommending people to eat healthy, and avoid packaged junk food during this time. Therefore, to the extent feasible, it is important that our relief efforts on food also focus on nutrition.
Our body needs a combination of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). While the specific requirements for each individual will vary depending upon their age, sex, physical activity and other factors, a well-balanced meal will include each of these types of nutrients. Some of the common sources of these nutrients are as follows:
Carbohydrates: Cereals (like rice, wheat, maize and millets), roots and tubers (like potato, carrot, radish and beetroot)
Fats: Ghee, butter, oil
Proteins: Milk and milk products, legumes and pulses, nuts, egg, fish, meat
Vitamins and minerals: Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, eggs
Ideally, a ration packet should include foods from different food groups (such as grains; milk and milk products; fats; pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat and fish; and fruits and vegetables) to include all macro and micro-nutrients. The table below provides a non-exhaustive list of items from different food groups, that may be included in a ration packet. There may be various challenges during an emergency situation, including around availability of food products, shelf life, packaging and others. There may also be seasonal and regional variations. Therefore, a ration packet may be designed based on what is feasible in a given situation, while trying to include items from different food groups.
Some Considerations When Designing Ration Packets
The above table provides a non-exhaustive list of items from different food groups, that may be included in a ration packet. Availability, cost, and feasibility would be important factors when choosing the final content for the packet. The following points may help in making the choice.