Meerut : The midday meal scheme, which provides nutritious food to children studying in government schools, was suspended during the pandemic due to closure of schools. As the mid-day meal scheme represents the lifeline for millions of schoolchildren in the country and has a significant impact on the children’s daily diet. As the schools reopen, this all-important scheme will also need to be re-activated with the provision of hot, cooked meals,”
However, The mid day meal scheme has been repeatedly hit by allegations of corruption and lack of hygiene. Now, Local Post tours the government schools or the aided ones in the city to find that not only is there blatant violation of norms, but also siphoning of good ration to replace them with sub-standard things is still rampant.
Experts feel that the midday meal norms are flouted not only by government schools but also by most of the aided schools. On other hand, the school management committee (SMC) either does not exist in many schools or they are not monitoring the scheme that leads to bad quality of meals provided to students.
Scam during Carona period
The last two academic sessions were washed out due to Carona. The people responsible for the mid day meal scheme at Panchyat level in connivance of the ration dealer and the department, made a scam of about two hundred and fifty quintals of food grains. The Basic Education Department has issued a notice asking for a block wise record of missing food grains.
About 1.52 lakh children are taking education in the government and aided primary and upper primary schools in the Meerut district. Schools remained closed during the Corona period and mid-day meals were not even distributed. Whereas before Corona, allocation had been made for the distribution of food grains for the distribution of mid-day meals. Post the recent Gram Panchayat elections after Corona, new heads were selected in most of the villages in the district and the responsibility of allocating food grains for food came to them. Due to Corona, the academic session from the year 2020 to 2021 was almost zero. In such a situation, even the distribution of mid-day meals could not be done. But the record of about two hundred and fifty quintals of food grains allotted before Corona could not be found till now.
Dr Umang, developmental pediatrician, said: “Children from poor vegetarian families especially suffer from lack of micro-nutrients. Both a balanced meal from nutrition point of view and a tasty and diverse menu are important for children. The critical issue is to monitor each. Since the logistics involved are too large for micro monitoring it is essential that punishment for corruption in this segment is exemplary enough to be a deterrent.”