Three people to test food before it is served to schoolchildren
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhubaneswar, 21 July
Apparently alarmed by the “near-fatal mid-day meal mishap” in Dhenkanal, the Odisha government has decided to put in place a mechanism to examine the quality of food before it is served to the children in schools.
A decision to this effect was taken in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here yesterday.
“It has been decided that three persons~ a member of the school committee, the cook and her assistant~ will first have the food to check its quality. Only if the food is of stipulated quality and does not have any adverse impact on their health, it would be served to the children,” said a senior officer of school and mass education department, who attended the meeting.
The headmaster of the concerned school will also be responsible for the quality of food tasted by the three members.
“This (checking of the quality of the food by three persons in the presence of the headmaster) has been made a mandatory protocol and will be implemented in all the schools,” he said.
In a bid to further strengthen the monitoring mechanism, it has been decided to rope in a third party to verify the food&’s quality. The third party will examine the standard of mid-day meal food in 300 schools of a district every month.
The meeting also stressed on constructing kitchens in all schools of the state. At present, of the 63,531 schools across Odisha, only about a little over 36,000 have separate kitchens.
The officials claimed that a mechanism with seven-parameters, including regularity of food, availability of food grains and other materials and hygiene, is being implemented. The meeting also reviewed the checking process of food provided at anganwadi centres, which have nearly 49 lakh beneficiaries. It was decided that the new protocol to be placed for schools will also be implemented in the anganwadi centre.
Strangely, nobody had an answer for the increase in ration that is bound to take place when over 2 lakh people (additional 3 people in each of the 63,531 schools and anganwadi centres) will taste or eat the food before it is served to kids.