MHRD asks states to include millets in midday meals

MHRD asks states to include millets in midday meals

Officials say that it is difficult to get the millets in large quantities so as to include them in midday meals.

Food served to schoolchildren across the nation will soon be more nutritious as Union Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) has issued a direction to all the state governments to include millet in the Midday meal programme.

Considering that millets are rich source of calcium, iron, protein, fiber and other factors, the ministry has issued an official communication to all the state governments asking them to take measures to include millets in their midday meal programme based on the food habits of the people of particular region.

The MHRD has told the state governments to send their current food menu for midday meals and to submit an action taken report on instructions to introduce millets.

The circular issued by MHRD reads: “Jowar (Great millet), Bajra (pearl millet), Ragi (finger millet), Arke (Kodo millet) are the most prominent millets. Millets are rich in protein, fiber, calcium, iron and other minerals which are essential for the growth and development of bones of children. Inclusion of millet and millet based recipe under midday meal scheme will go a long way to address malnutrition. So you are advised to take suitable steps to identify millets as per food habits in your states and include in midday meal in preferred frequency.”

It can be recalled that Karnataka has taken a lead in this regard by introducing millet in midday meals on pilot basis in select 1,000 government schools of Bengaluru Urban district. Akshaya Patra Foundation had taken up the initiative and served millet meals for 100 days.

A source from Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “We even submitted report to Education department with 70 to 80% progress in health of children. We are waiting for government’s nod to continue supplying millets.”

However, officials said that it was difficult to get the millets in large quantities so as to include in midday meals.

“There are no sources of millets for introducing them in midday meals if they are to be procured through public distribution system. Buying directly from farmers is difficult,” said a senior official of the department.

It can be recalled that even Niti Aayog had suggested to include millets in PDS and midday meal scheme. The idea was to promote millets as nutri-cereals and Indian Council for Agricultural Research is working on storage issues as storage of millets for long time is an issue.