Mid-day meal cooks, assistants get chef's attire

The Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat has introduced uniforms for the mid-day meal cooks and assistants in the government primary and high schools to ensure cleanliness.

Initially, the authorities had distributed uniforms in a few selected schools in the district. Now, it has been extended to most of the schools. 

Sources told Deccan Herald that the cooks and assistants are given an apron, a headgear (cap) and two gloves. 

The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE), popularly known as the mid-day-meals scheme, aims to give a boost to universalisation of primary education by increasing enrolment, attendance and retention and simultaneously impacting on nutritional status of children in primary classes. 

To put an end to allegation that the staff cooking food are not clean, the authorities decided to provide uniforms. 

Of the 1,411 government primary and high schools in the district, the new attire has already been distributed in 931 primary schools and 161 high schools. 

The sources said “the main purpose is to give priority to hygiene and cleanliness. As the students will be watching the cooks preparing meals in a hygienic condition, they will take home the message of cleanliness as well.

 It will also create awareness among the schoolchildren on the need for maintaining cleanliness. The use of gloves and cap also ensures safe food. We may not know whether the cooks wash their hands before preparing meals. But the use of gloves will ensure cleanliness,” added the sources. 

The cooks have been directed to compulsorily use apron, cap and gloves while cutting vegetables to preparing meals. 

A cook in a government primary school said “initially it was difficult to adjust with the gloves and head gear (cap) while cooking. Now it has become a part of cooking. Even with utmost care while preparing meals, sometimes we get a hair in the food.

The use of cap and gloves will not give an opportunity to make allegations about practices followed while cooking.”

Under the mid-day meals scheme, 100 gram rice, 20 gram dal, 50 gram vegetables are given to each student from first to fifth standard and 150 gram rice, 30 gram dal, 50 gram vegetables for those in the sixth standard and above.

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