Even as the death toll in the Bihar midday meal tragedy goes up by the day, many students deep down in Hyderabad have developed a dislike for food supplied at schools.
The fact is that students in the city are not warm to the idea of midday meal since it is not warm when they eat it.
The food is supplied very early in the day, and there is no way to keep it steaming till it is served.
The food is transported in steel cans to schools everyday by 10 a.m., but students prefer to eat it only during the lunch hour.
“Students come to the school after having their breakfast and are in no mood to eat in the early hours of the day. It is only during lunch break they come forward to eat,” a government school teacher says. To their dismay, the food is not warm as it is supplied in regular containers and gets cold in two to three hours.
As a result, some students avoid it thus defeating the very purpose of preparing and sending it across to schools. “Students of primary classes have no complaints, but when it comes to higher classes students are very probing and selective,” a headmaster of a school at Golconda says.
Food kept in corridors
In most schools, the food containers are kept in corridors thanks to space constraints. In times of rains, the staff shift them to classrooms. “Either way, it does not remain hot and fails to attract students,” says a teacher.
Meanwhile, the authorities of various government schools admit that the food gets wasted especially on rainy days.
“Many a time we dispense the food to poor families in the vicinity. Some children pack it in polythene covers and take it home,” another government school teacher says.
At the 100 odd Urdu medium schools in the city, most students have opted out of the midday meal scheme in view of the fasting month of Ramzan. Headmasters have taken a written undertaking from students who do not want to avail the food.
“Thus only the required quantity is being supplied now,” a headmaster says.
In most schools, food is supplied in the early hours of the day, and there is no method to keep it hot till it is served, which in turn makes students avoid it, defeating the very purpose of the midday meal scheme