Anganwadi workers and their assistants organised a novel protest here on Thursday to highlight that the quality of ready-to-cook food provided to children and pregnant women, as part of a nutrition programme, was substandard.

The protesters cooked food from a packet supplied by the Government under the Integrated Child Development Scheme . Then, they requested Deputy Commissioner B. Shivappa to taste the food .

Police officers, presspersons and members of the public also tasted the food and concurred with the protesters. .

The protesters had gathered under the banner of the Bellary district unit of the Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers and Assistants' Federation, affiliated to the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

The stir was part of a Statewide agitation called by AITUC.

Arkaani, president of the district unit of the federation, told The Hindu that the Government had brought in changes to the food kit supplied under the three-decade-old programme. As a result, the kit contained powdered grain with oil mixed in it, instead of foodgrains, she noted.

Ms. Arkaani suspected that either the contents in the packets had become old or sub-standard grain could have been used by the agencies that had been awarded the contract, resulting in the contents turning bad.

“Children and pregnant women have been rejecting the food served to them in the anganwadi centres,” she said. This had defeated the very purpose of the Government programme, she added.

In a memorandum submitted to the Governor and Chief Minister, the anganwadi workers urged the authorities to stop the supply of ready-to-eat food and restore the earlier system of supplying foodgrains. If this was not done, the beneficiaries might stop coming to the anganwadi centres, resulting in the closing down of all centres and rendering 1.08 lakh workers and assistants jobless, they warned.

General secretary of the district unit of the Communist Party of India K. Nagabhushan Rao and president of the district unit of AITUC Thayappa were present.

Keywords: Protest action

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