Hershey India, a subsidiary of leading global chocolate giant the Hershey Company, announced recently that it has developed Sofit Plus, a plant protein drink made from soy that was created to meet the nutritional requirements of underprivileged children.
As part of its ‘Nourishing Minds’ social initiative, Hershey India developed a soy protein drink after collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), Sion Hospital, and the non-profit Annamrita, also known as the ISKCON Food Relief Foundation that manages the mid-day meal program in India, who together conducted a research to understand where underprivileged kids are lacking nutrition and address the same.
The research analyzed a group of children between the ages of 6-18 belonging to the slums in suburban Mumbai, India, and focussed on providing proof of the role that nutritional supplements can play in improving nourishment, whether the plant protein drink – Sofit plus is effective and what is the impact of the same.
The results showed that 30% of the kids are below normal Body Mass Index – BMI out of which 18% are thin, 11% children are extremely thin and 0.9% are underweight.
The research highlighted the various deficiencies the children had from lack of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to absence of calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B12, zinc, and iron, all that are supposedly required for the functioning of a healthy body.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, VP for India and AEMEA at The Hershey Company Herjit Bhalla, said that the initiative is in line with the company’s history of driving positive change in society. “Keeping up with the tradition, we have developed Sofit Plus, a soy plant protein fortified drink. Designed to help meet the nutritional needs of underprivileged kids in India, this product is backed by rigorous research and development, to help address the low nutrition levels amongst the designated group of children and help contribute towards building a healthier future for them.”
A country cannot aim to attain economic and social development goals without addressing the issue of malnutrition. It is essential to focus on children’s health for inclusive growth and educational development as they will be driving the future of our countryProfessor Narendra Shah of IIT Bombay
Led by Professor Narendra Shah at IIT Bombay, an initial campaign saw approximately 500 children served 200ml of Sofit Plus for 6 days a week during three months, with close supervision at schools around the city.
Shah commented that “Lack of nutrition among children is often the invisible problem in developing nations. India is home to millions of stunted children. A country cannot aim to attain economic and social development goals without addressing the issue of malnutrition. It is essential to focus on children’s health for inclusive growth and educational development as they will be driving the future of our country.”
We have developed Sofit Plus, a soy plant protein fortified drink. Designed to help meet the nutritional needs of underprivileged kids in India, this product is backed by rigorous research and development, to help address the low nutrition levels amongst the designated group of children and help contribute towards building a healthier future for themHerjit Bhalla, vice president India and AEMEA at The Hershey Company
Shah added that seeing “the positive results delivered by Sofit Plus in addressing the nutritional gaps in malnourished children is quite encouraging”. “Sofit Plus is specially manufactured with added plant proteins and micronutrients for distribution to students of participating schools. Made with added nutrients, the product should be beneficial for the children’s overall health and growth.”
In its product portfolio, Hershey India already has soy protein based milks under the same name Sofit with adults as the target audience.
A recent study revealed that diets that are high in plant protein have direct links to lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke among other diseases given that they impact blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels in a positive way thus advising the general public to intake more of these proteins and nutrients in their daily diet.
Elsewhere, Hershey is expanding its presence in the plant-based market as the parent company revealed plans to launch plant-based chocolates that will have rare and natural sugars.
Lead image courtesy by Medicine Net.com.