8/9/13 A nutritious option - The Hinduwww.thehindu.com/features/education/school/a-nutritious-option/article4996111.ece 1/2
iffin time: During a mid-day meal at a municipal high school in Vijaywada. Photo: Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar
n alternative system of mid-day meal management can ensure both food quality and safety of students
idespread nationalconcern over the poor quality of mid-day meals has been voiced following theBihar tragedy . In
ddition, there are safety concerns arising from large-scale daily cooking of meals inside the school compound as over80children were burnt to death in a school in Tamil Nadu’s Kumbakonam in 2004.Last but not the least, many teachers have complained of further decline in the quality of school education when they ave to give a lot of their time to supervising cooking and food distribution.ll these problems can be sorted out by introducing an alternative system. This system also has the benefit of imultaneously helping anganwadis, providing employment to local women from weaker sections and helping organicarming.ccording to this system, the responsibility of preparing and distributing mid-day meals will be given to Self-HelpGroups (SHGs) of local women. These groups will be provided with some initial capital in its bank account by theovernment.he government will also provide a clean kitchen, utensils and wherever practical, a cooking gas connection. Theitchen will be near the school but not inside the school.he SHGs will prepare nutritious traditional local dry foods, which will vary according to the season.he raw material will be purchased from local or nearby organic farmers at a price which provides duencouragement to organic farming.In addition, fruits that can be distributed and eaten easily, such as oranges and bananas, will also be procured. wice every day, at attendance time and tiffin time, women from the SHGs will go to the local schools and distributehe dry food (or fruits) after tasting it.he teachers will merely have to sign the papers for food received for so many children. The government will quickly ake payments on the basis of these papers at a rate that gives a good margin to the SHGs.he groups can also provide nutritious food at anganwadi centres. After fulfilling these two commitments on ariority basis, the groups can also sell its products commercially.In this proposed system, a lot of employment and income potential for women from weaker sections can be tapped.Over a period of time, on-the-job training can also be provided to members of the SHGs.