Soy snacks combat hunger in India

U. ILLINOIS (US) — Adding curry to protein-rich soy is giving hungry children in India a healthy snack that tastes good and is good for them.

Researchers worked with Akshaya Patra to find ways to incorporate soy into the school lunch programs without increasing cost or adding unwanted taste.

Akshaya Patra is a non-profit organization working for the benefit of the 13.5 million underprivileged children in India, whose families cannot afford to send them to school.

Steam technology prepares enough rice to feed more than 100,000 children in India in a few hours. (Credit: U. Illinois)

In order to combat the cycle of poverty that results from an uneducated society, the organization serves a free nutritional midday lunch to children as an incentive to attend school. For many of these children, the meal is the only food they receive all day.

Soy is inexpensive and nutritional—especially for a largely vegetarian country, but because of its taste, is not a popular food choice.

Soo-Yeun Lee, Youngsoo Lee, and Erika A. Neely of the University of Illinois department of food science and human nutrition, came up with a soy snack flavored with traditional Indian curry.

“We saw an opportunity here because if there is one thing kids everywhere love, it is snacks, says Bridget Owens, associate director for the National Soybean Research Laboratory. “Therefore, we wanted to focus on a nutritious snack that these kids will actually want to eat.”

The final product meets the FDA guideline for high protein claim and also contains less fat calories than many other traditional Indian snacks.

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