The revised noon meal menu that was introduced on an experimental basis in six Chennai schools recently has not only won the approval of the students but also the authorities, who propose to extend it to all government schools in the State.
The teachers of the six schools, in Saidapet, Mylapore and Triplicane, and noon meal organisers say ever since the new menu came into effect students do not waste food.
Karpagam Valli of Class VIII and Reshma Begum of Class V at the Chennai Middle School on Triplicane High Road vouch for the lunch. Of the 244 students here, 225 have the lunch prepared in school, authorities say.
“The food is very good. Each day, we get a different dish. We get tomato rice, sambar rice, puliyodarai and potatoes. When the food my mother packs is not enough, I eat at school,” said Reshma.
Karpagam, whose mother leaves for work at 5 a.m., says “sometimes when she does not have money to buy food I eat here.”
This fiscal, the State government has sanctioned Rs.924 crore towards the noon meal scheme but it does not include the cost of the revised menu. The new menu is estimated to cost 75 paise per meal as against the current 44 paise, according to Social Welfare Department sources.
“We sent a proposal to increase the money given for noon meal scheme programme and hope that the government will sanction a little more than what we proposed,” Social Welfare Commissioner M.P. Nirmala said.
The cooks were taught to make egg palatable by adding salt and onions. The nutrition department of Queen Mary's College is evaluating the new menu.
“The scheme covers students up to Class X. We would welcome support from industrialists and philanthropists to provide milk and snacks to children in the classes XI and XII,” she said.
Teachers in some government schools say some children cannot afford even breakfast. Their faces begin to droop by 11.30 a.m., when lunch break is still almost an hour away. These children could be provided some breakfast, preferably kanji (porridge), they suggest.
Keywords: Chennai schools