NAGPUR: From the upcoming academic session, zilla parishad officials will be cracking down on schools that fail to implement midday meals (MDM) scheme properly.
Nilesh Waghmare, district in charge for MDM said, “There will be increased supervision and lot of surprise checks at schools to ensure that children are getting nutritious, tasty and hygienic food.”
Waghmare’s statements comes two days after a baby snake, also known as a ‘snakelet’, was found in the food served to students in a school in Uttar Pradesh. The academic session for state board schools in city, where MDM is served, will begin from either June 26 or 27. The task for Waghmare will definitely be tough because there are over 2,000 schools in district serving MDM and the staff dedicated for this task is less than a dozen. As per MDM guidelines, the primary responsibility for checking the food lies with the school’s principal.
Waghmare said, “Safety of children is our main goal and we will ensure that they get good quality food as per the guidelines. Nagpur district has lakhs of students benefiting from the MDM scheme and it is a huge responsibility. I am drawing up plans to ensure that random checks will be held in schools on a regular basis.”
In city, schools get raw rice in bulk quantity from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns based on requisition sent to Waghmare’s office. The rice is delivered directly to school campus by contracted transporter. But other items like pulses, vegetables, oil and spices have to be purchased by schools and then the bill is reimbursed by ZP.
In the last two years there have been only two cases of food poisoning reported in the district. Waghmare said, “Starting surprise checks does not mean that we are accusing anybody in particular. It’s just a method of double checking how things are being implemented at the ground level. We will act both on information received from public and random geographical selection of schools.”
He added that neglecting to adhere to guidelines is considered a serious problem. Waghmare said, “This puts the lives of hundreds of kids in danger, so we are looking at a major problem. In food poisoning cases anyway the police get involved and we also conduct a separate inquiry into the incident.”