Nonprofits to have less role in mid-day meal scheme in villages

DPI prepares to implement Centre's policy; NGOs to wait and watch

Nonprofits to have less role in  mid-day meal scheme in villages

The role of NGOs in the Mid-day Meals (MDM) scheme in rural schools in the State is set to be minimized and ultimately curtailed following a decision taken by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in September. NGOs in the State are, however, mostly oblivious of the impending measure and are adopting a wait and watch stance.

The State is in the process of preparing a standard operating procedure (SOP) on how to implement the midday Meal Rules, 2015, notified by the MHRD on September, 30, according to an official from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

The rules have been framed under the National Food Security Act, 2013. One of them speaks about the need for facilities for “every school” to prepare food, while also mentioning the need for centralised kitchen in “urban areas”.

“We want to prevent various issues relating to the quality of food served in rural areas, where meals are prepared in centralised kitchens and transported to schools. We would like all schools in rural areas to prepare food themselves, to prevent such issues cropping up. In urban areas, the centralised kitchens run by NGOs will be used for the time being,” said the official.

Share of rural schools

As per information provided in the website of the DPI, there are 100 NGOs involved in the MDM scheme catering to a total of 5,618 schools and 10.9 lakh children. Of this, officials claim that the share of rural schools and students is quite sizeable.

Akshaya Patra, an NGO, caters to as many as 2,629 schools and 4,63,682 students. Of this, “50 per cent to 60 per cent are rural schools” said a spokesperson for the NGO. “We have just heard of the rules and are waiting for the government to take the next step. We will take a decision thereafter. If we are asked to cater only to urban schools, we are ready to do so. However, we can also put up smaller or mini kitchens in rural areas to cater to schools there.”

Ved Vyas Bhat, trustee, Adamya Chetana, another NGO that is involved with the government’s MDM scheme, said: “The central government has taken a decision, but we not been given any direction from the State. We will wait and watch,” he said.

The headmaster of a government school in Sandur, Ballari, who did not want to be named, said: “Presently, we receive the midday meals from a local NGO. I am the only permanent staffer here and there are a few guest teachers. It will be very difficult to prepare the food here, especially with such a shortage in staff,” she said. 

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