A leading community service organization in the country was
engaged in a nutrition education initiative in eastern Uttar
Pradesh in India. The nutrition education initiative was aided
by a leading development funding agency.
As a committed organization, the project team members
were concerned about two key issues:
One, how to ensure assimilation of the nutrition educational
ideas by the rural housewife and children who were the target
audience for the project.
Two, how to ensure application of these ideas into the daily
lives/ family-level choices by those who had assimilated these
Illumine as a mentoring agency – who was supporting
the project team members on the methodology side – recognized
that the challenge was not an ‘education one’
but one associated with a transformation of identity of the
The core of the solution approach was a re-envisioning of
the rural housewife as a nutritional designer for her household
– one who would always choose to act in the highest
interest of her family – and one whose only need for
outside help was in the form of design tools that would help
her play her role better and more effectively.
This vision resulted in a fundamental frameshift
in our thinking about nutrition education. From a focus on
nutritional concepts, we moved first to focusing on the community
aspirations that impact nutritional behavior.
The mapping of community aspirations was followed by a design
journey where the appropriate "nutritional solutions"
were worked out on a first-cut basis.
The next step in the journey involved converting
the design of cognitive transformations into an actionable
model. This we called the “Thali Model” (Thali
means a complete meal) – the Thali Model being a simple
and powerful way to represent the relationship between aspirational
outcomes (sought by the community) and the cognitive outcomes
(sought by those conducting the interventions).
This became the basis for creating a ‘design
envisioning’ for the housewife as a nutritional designer
who could now use the generic “thali model” in
extremely specific and contexted ways.