Government increases funds for midday meals with quality endorsement

PANAJI

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Tuesday that the government would increase the cost of midday meals on the condition that self-help groups involved in preparing food for students did not compromise on quality.

“There is a request to increase the cost by Rs 1.90 per midday meal. I decided to increase the cost provided there was no compromise on the quality of the food,” he said.

Sawant was answering questions from the media regarding allegations of delay in depositing money into the account of midday meal workers and SHG promoters from five sub-districts warning to cut off midday meal supply due financial constraints.

Sawant heavily criticized some SHGs for allegedly providing substandard food, which ultimately led to their wastage. Responding to another question, he said the government will no longer accept any laxity from food suppliers.

“I don’t want to hear that 50% of students don’t want to eat lunch because of its poor quality. Some SHGs compromise on quality. We will not accept this,” he warned.

The Goa, in its Sunday edition, had given an overview of the prevailing situation around the issue where some parents raised questions about the quality of midday meals. Some also sought to find out how many students were consuming the meals as there were instances where cooked food was discarded due to poor quality.

Goa was also the first to report that the government had approved the Ministry of Education’s proposal to increase the rate. The primary level per meal will now cost from Rs 6.11 to approximately Rs 8 and for the higher primary at approximately Rs 10 from Rs 7.50.

It is worth recalling that amid reports that thousands of children may have to go without their midday meal when schools reopen after the Diwali holidays due to the fight between contractors and the Ministry of Education regarding late payment and meal prices, the Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child had written to the Director of Education to ensure a solution to the crisis.

A group of cash-strapped midday meal entrepreneurs serving schools in five talukas were angry as they argued with education officials about their precarious financial situation over pending bills and unprofitable tariffs .

Earnest L. Veasey