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Central team to review midday meal execution

There were reports of school kids falling sick after consuming contaminated meals

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The Centre will now send a team to West Bengal to review the implementation of the midday meal scheme. This comes a day after the Centre decided to send five teams to inquire into the complaints of irregularities in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) implementation. The ministry of education’s decision to send the central review team has come in the wake of complaints over unhygienic methods of cooking, including the discovery of lizards and cockroaches in the prepared meals.

There were reports of school kids falling sick after consuming such contaminated meals. The ministry has set up a joint review mission (JRM) for West Bengal to review the implementation of the centrally sponsored PM-POSHAN scheme or midday meal scheme at state, district and school levels for a specified period of time.

The JRM comprises nutrition experts, central government officers and the state government. The team is expected to review various aspects of the scheme’s implementation, like who are actually getting the benefits; how the state government is reimbursing the schools under it; condition of the infrastructure requirements like kitchens; and the quality of the nutritious food provided to the students.

Besides interacting with the representatives of the implementation authorities on this count, the central field inspection team is also expected to speak to beneficiaries and their guardians. According to the terms of reference issued for the JRM, it will “…Review the fund flow from State to Schools/implementing agencies; Review the coverage of the Scheme; Review the availability of Management Structure at State, District, Block level; Review the delivery mechanism of food grains from State to Schools; Review the smooth implementation of the Scheme with particular reference to Interruptions…. System of Storage food grains and other ingredients; Role of Teachers in Scheme; Tasting of Meal by Teacher, Parents and Community; Testing of meals;

Involvement of Community….” Detailing the nutritional aspects that are to be reviewed by the JRM, the ministry’s letter read: “To assess the anthropometric measurements of a sample of children availing meal, To Calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) on the basis of measurement of height and weight; To identify the children who are undernourished and over nourished; To review the quality and quantity of the served Meal; To review the satisfaction of the children parents and community on the served meal under PM-POSHAN in respect of quality and quantity and to suggest some nutritionally balanced region specific recipes”.

It may be mentioned here that the state government has recently revised the menu for the midday meal by including chicken and seasonal fruits in the menu for the next four months to enhance the nutritional level of children through cooked meals. A total of Rs 371 crore was allotted for this. Under this scheme, cooked meals are provided to children studying in Classes I to VIII in government and government sponsored schools.