'Serve midday meal according to children's liking

HRD ministry asks states to avoid same kind of meal everyday

'Serve midday meal according to children's liking

The Human Resource Development Ministry has asked states to prepare menu for each midday meal “according to the taste and liking of children” and avoid providing the same meal everyday.

In a letter to state education secretaries, the ministry’s School Education and Literacy Secretary R Bhattacharya has also asked them to learn from some of the best practices like “Tithi Bhojan” in Gujarat and improve community participation in the implementation of the scheme.

“There have been some reports that repetitive menus are not liked by children. I would, therefore, appreciate if you could kindly look into the matter, learn from the good practices, take steps to improve community participation in midday meal scheme and design the menu with variety and according to the taste and liking of children,” he said.

According to the midday meal programme guidelines, the ingredients should include food grains, pulses and leafy and seasonal vegetables.

It also envisages that the community members and teachers should ensure that children eat midday meals together in an orderly manner in a spirit of camaraderie.  
Though schools procure the ingredients as prescribed, many of them do not provide variety.

“In western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and some other states, many schools have rice-based menu. They are serving the same meal to children everyday even when children do not like it as cooking rice is easier that Roti (bread),” sources in the ministry said.

In Himachal Pradesh, a joint review mission noted that quality of cooked rice was lumpy.

 Mixed dal was cooked across all schools and was very thin leading to poor nutrient density. On tasting the dal, it was found to be very spicy.

Lauki, brinjal, pumpkin and radish were the vegetables cooked along with potato. As vegetables were pressure cooked, the overall taste was bland.

Such meals are served daily and are creating a sense of monotony among the children. Some parents revealed that their children dislike kadhi and khichdi in Bengali dominated areas.

“Midday meal programme is meant for children. What is the relevance of this scheme when the meal is not served according to their taste and liking,” sources in the ministry said. In Tamil Nadu, he said, an initiative has been taken to provide variety of meal to children in schools under the scheme.

 The menu is prepared according to the taste and liking of the children.  “There are good practices in some school in other states also like Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Tripura, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. States should learn from them and improve the implementation of the scheme,” sources added.

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