Now, Akshaya Patra can spice it up sans onion, garlic

The Foundation is serving 1.83 lakh students at 1,212 schools across Karnataka.

The uniform menu for midday meal scheme by State Department of Primary and Secondary Education mandates inclusion of onion even for non-governmental organisations that are associated with the scheme, but the department has spared Akshaya Patra Foundation from the rule.

Justifying Akshaya Patra Foundation’s stand of sticking to ‘Satvik’ food and not including onion and garlic in the menu, senior officials of the department said, “food supplied by Akshaya Patra Foundation is meeting all nutritional values mentioned by both the state and the union government.”

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Dr K G Jagadeesha, Commissioner for Department of Public Instructions, said, “One of the clauses in the revised order stated that if the organisation associated with mid-day meal scheme wishes to make any changes in the menu, then they should approach the government and get permission.”

Nutrition intact

“The Akshaya Patra Foundation has already taken permission from the government for their menu which is without onion and garlic. Following their request, we even tested their samples at the National Institute of Nutrition, which said the food has all nutritional values mentioned by state and union governments,” Jagadeesha said.

However, the commissioner said, “The menu was revised not because of lack of nutritional values, but just to break the monotony.”

Recently, the department had issued a revised uniform menu for mid-day meal which is implemented from November 2 at all schools across the state.

It can be recalled that in November 2018, Akshaya Patra Foundation was caught in a row over not including onion and garlic in their menu. The department issued them a notice, asking the foundation to stick to the guidelines. Following the refusal by the foundation to include onion and garlic, the department had refused to sign the agreement for continuation of association of the foundation with the scheme.

But as there was no alternative arrangement with government to cater to the large number of students/schools which the foundation is covering, it allowed the foundation to continue. The nutrient values for food samples served by the foundation were tested and cleared by the department.

The Foundation is serving 1.83 lakh students at 1,212 schools across Karnataka.

When DH contacted authorities of Akshaya Patra Foundation, they refused to comment on the development.

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