The state government is actively considering resumption of the mid-day meal scheme for school students after the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) apprised it of the matter a few days ago.
According to Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh, the department is looking into the feasibility of resuming the scheme with schools allowed to function with 100 per cent attendance in classes VI to XII from October 1, instead of the rotational 50 per cent.
“We are planning to resume the mid-day meal scheme by serving students cooked food every afternoon. A decision will be taken soon,” Nagesh said. At present, students are provided dry ration in place of a cooked meal. The mid-day meal scheme had been suspended by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Admitting that there has been a growing demand to resume the scheme, Nagesh said he was visiting schools and interacting with students to know their opinion as well. “We will start serving food to the students soon. During my visits, students have told me that they bring home-cooked food for lunch these days,” he said.
Earlier, KSCPCR had highlighted that many parents had lost their jobs due to the pandemic leading to financial constraints at home. “They (parents) are struggling to provide food and other infrastructure for their children,” a letter addressed to the DPI Commissioner by KSCPCR Chairman Fr Anthony Sebastian read.
KSCPCR has also urged the DPI commissioner to “ensure hot, cooked mid-day meals for students in schools by following the SoPs stipulated by the experts.”
Meanwhile, a DPI official told indianexpress.com that vaccinating all workers involved in implementation of the mid-day meal scheme is important before the service is resumed.
“This depends on the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine and we will coordinate with the Health Department to ensure this is done on priority. We are committed to ensuring nutritious meals for the children and a decision in their favour will be taken soon after considering all aspects,” the official said.
In July, the state government had decided to provide the ‘cooking cost’ of mid-day meals to the students via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). A circular issued by the DPI commissioner had asked concerned officials to inform all branches of nationalised banks and post offices to allow opening of zero balance accounts for students of classes I to VIII to be linked to the scheme.