Eggs vanish from the plate as allocation is cut

not so sumptuous:Students of Savarayalu Nayakar Govt. Girls High School having mid-day meals. Food being prepared at the central kitchen in Lawspet. —Photos: S.S. Kumar  

The mid-day meal scheme aimed at improving enrolment and fighting malnutrition among children from poor families studying in government schools appears to be losing steam in Puducherry.

While many government primary schools are being closed because of low enrolment, the cut in the allocation has altered the menu as well. About Rs. one crore was cut from the funds allocated to nutrition from last academic year because of which eggs have not been supplied.

A month after the schools reopened for the academic year 2016-17, the children are yet to get their share of boiled eggs twice a week. Only recently, the government had issued supply order for eggs to Pondicherry Central Cooperative Processing Supply and Marketing Society at 55 paisa per egg.

Many children in government schools and staff in Puducherry said that although eggs had to be provided twice a week as per the menu, it had not been the case in 2015-16. “The supply of eggs to schools was ensured only a few months before the Assembly election,” said a staff.

Officials of the Directorate of School Education said the government did not have sufficient funds to provide eggs regularly in the last academic year.

“Last year, the State government cut the allocation for nutrition by at least Rs. 1 crore. Paucity of funds resulted in the irregular supply of eggs. However, the children were compensated with Bengal gram,” said the officials.

As per the scheme, the daily menu should contain 100 or 150 gm of rice, sambar or variety rice and curry; 75 gm of vegetables a day per student; food cooked with double fortified salt ; boiled egg weekly twice; and 12 gm of Bengal gram on days when egg is not served.

The present menu only gives rice, sambar and poriyal to children. The mandatory tamarind or tomato rice or vegetable pulav has not been included in the menu. Bread or biscuits which were supplied with milk in the morning have been stopped. Milk, which was provided twice a day — in the morning and evening — has been reduced to once a day since 2013. The officials claim that the demand for milk had been low from children and hence they stopped providing milk in the evening.

L. Kumar, Director of School Education, said they would start providing eggs twice a week this month. However, milk had been supplied to schools only once a day from 2013.

Another official said that the new government was working on a new menu for the mid-day meal scheme. “This menu will have vegetable pulav or tomato rice once a week apart from sambar rice and poriyal and eggs twice a week,” the official said.

There were nearly 10 central kitchens and two cluster kitchens in Puducherry. Each central kitchen cooks food for 5,000 children. Many kitchens are short-staffed. They had only six persons as against the requirement of 15 or 20 people.

Even a month after the schools are

re-opened, children have not been served boiled eggs

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 10:09:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/Eggs-vanish-from-the-plate-as-allocation-is-cut/article14477106.ece

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