Tamil Nadu

Schools asked to create vegetable gardens for nutritious meal centres

File photo from 2016 shows Cauvery Global School school students at their roof-top vegetable gardening initiative.

File photo from 2016 shows Cauvery Global School school students at their roof-top vegetable gardening initiative.   | Photo Credit: M. Moorthy

Each centre to be allocated ₹5,000; children to be roped in for the programme

To help set up vegetable gardens in 10,024 nutritious meal centres across Tamil Nadu, the Department of Elementary Education has called upon students, school management committees and parents, who are farmers, to work with officials from the Department of Agriculture and Horticulture to implement the initiative under the Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Nutritious Meal Programme.

Following an announcement in 2019 by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami in the Assembly that vegetable gardens would be set up to aid nutritious meal centres across the State, the Department of Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme released a government order detailing the initiative.

Each centre providing children with noon meals will be given ₹5,000 to help start the vegetable gardens and the produce will be used in the preparation of meals. The objective is to ensure students have nutritionally rich food.

“We have now asked district-level education officials to ensure that schools are aware of the initiative and told them to start setting up these kitchen gardens. By involving children, this will give them hands-on experience on how to grow vegetables and will teach them the importance of farming and organic produce,” an official from the Department of Elementary Education said. A circular to this effect was sent on February 5 to all districts.

While schools that have space on campus can allocate a small plot for the vegetable garden, those with space constraints have been asked to set up roof-top gardens.

“Students can be divided into groups of 8 or 12 and each group can be allocated a small section of the garden to be in-charge of. While officials from the Horticulture and Agriculture department will help set up the gardens, students can be taught how to take care of it,” the instructions issued for the initiative said.

Teachers and school management committees have been asked to help out the students if needed and schools have been asked to speak to the children about the vegetables harvested from the garden during the morning assembly before they are handed over to nutritious meal centres.

Several government and government-aided schools across districts have independently started small vegetable gardens on their campuses over the last few years. Many teachers feel the initiative will encourage students to spend time outdoors as well as sensitise them to organic produce and make them environmentally conscious.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:08:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/schools-asked-to-start-vegetable-gardens-for-nutritious-meal-centres-across-tn/article30775472.ece

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