Centre tells states to develop kitchen garden in schools for mid-day meal scheme

Centre tells states to develop kitchen garden in schools for mid-day meal scheme

The Centre wants states to develop kitchen gardens to grow fresh vegetables for the mid-day meal scheme.

In the latest advisory, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has suggested to states that such kitchen gardens can be developed for the mid-day meal scheme in convergence with MGNREGA.

"You are advised to take up development of kitchen gardens in convergence with MGNREGA as well as the Agriculture and Horticulture Department in your respective states," the ministry said in an official communication to chief secretaries and education department heads of all states and Union territories.

This comes after the ministry held workshops in various states to discuss and review the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools across the country.

Proposal for development of kitchen gardens for mid-day meal in schools was one of the key agenda of the meetings that the HRD Ministry held with the officials of the states during the workshops.

During a two-day workshop in Goa last month, a working group, comprising representatives from Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, made a host of recommendations for the development of kitchen gardens in schools.

Suggesting an action plan, the working group recommended bringing students, parents and other community members on board to develop and maintain the kitchen gardens.

"Kitchen garden may supply most of the non-staple foods that a school needs every day of the year, including roots and tubers, vegetables and fruits, legumes, herbs and spices," the ministry stated during the Goa workshop.

The ministry also noted that students would get an opportunity to participate in a team and gain "self-confidence and a sense of capableness along with new skills and knowledge in food growing."

"Students may become more fit and healthy as they spend more time active in the outdoors and start choosing healthy foods over junk food," it added.

Official sources clarified that it's only a suggestion to involve children in running the kitchen gardens.

"It cannot be made mandatory. Schools may involve only those who are interested and come forward voluntarily," they added.

Kitchen gardens have been developed in schools of some of the states, including Andhra Pradesh.

Over 16,000 schools in Karnataka have kitchen gardens, the primary and secondary education department had told the HRD Ministry during a Project Approval Board meeting last year.

A total of 9.78 crore children in 11.40 lakh schools were covered under the mid-day meal scheme in 2016-17.

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