Government plans Saturday upgrade for midday meals

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Mid-day meal

Bangalore, Sept 26, 2013: Government school children in the State, in class one to nine, will soon have an addition to their mid-day meal plate on Saturdays, a boiled egg or a banana. If egg is not consumed by a child on account of his/her faith or dietary restrictions, banana becomes the choice.

However, eggs may become a bone of contention as the Education department is likely to face opposition from at least some NGOs who supply the mid-day meals to schools, to provide boiled eggs. A total of 93 NGOs are part of the mid-meal scheme.

Sources in the department said though egg is considered a nutritious food, several Hindu and religious donor organisations have said that they cannot supply eggs under the scheme.

The department also proposes to introduce vegetable uppittu in the Saturday menu for the nearly 50 lakh schoolchildren across the State.

The money saved by not cooking sambar (curry) on Saturdays will be used to provide the eggs or bananas for the children. The authorities of Akshaya Patra, the leading NGO in the scheme, told Deccan Herald that there are limitations to the food provided by them, given the constraints in the centralised kitchens, equipment and the distribution network.

“However, we wish to assure the government and all stakeholders that we shall strive to meet the nutritional requirements of the children within the constraints on our menu due to the kitchen infrastructure,” said Chanchalapathi Dasa, vice-chairman for the Akshaya Patra Foundation.

The Adamya Chetana Trust, the second largest donor NGO in the mid-day meal schemes, remained ‘non-committal’ on the supply of eggs. Trust president Tejaswini Ananth Kumar said logistics would be a big issue to supply eggs.

“Also, if children do not eat eggs, it becomes a bigger problem. There are a sizeable number of Lingayat children studying in government schools,” she pointed out.

It is also likely that a section of the 1.08 cooks hired for the 54,000 government schools may not agree to boil or supply eggs to the schoolchildren.

The department is going to approach the donor organisations over the new scheme of supplementary food, after getting the final nod from the government.

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