Shaken by the Bihar mid-day meal tragedy, the ministry of human resource development (MHRD) has issued a 12-point guidelines to all the states and union territories to avoid any such mishap.
Revolving round quality, safety and hygiene, the fresh guidelines stress on sensitising stakeholders — school children and teachers — on various aspects related to schemes through films.
The MHRD circular signed by additional secretary Amarjit Singh says the department has made two films on the mid-day meal scheme through which teachers will be educated on hygiene while students will be taught on importance of washing hands before taking meals among other aspects.
To spread awareness, the MHRD has also asked the states to observe MDM month in November.
“The preparedness and availability of foodgrains and funds at various levels the scheme would be reviewed during the MDM month,” said the directive, which also talks about publicising the scheme through TV, radio and print media.
Further, an emergency medical plan will be put into place to avoid any untoward incidents in schools.
The guidelines read: If at all Bihar like situation does occur, it should be the responsibility of the head master to inform district education officer, district health officer or district magistrate without any delay.
The guidelines also ask the state to ensure that a teacher and any of the members of school management committee taste the food before it is distributed among children.
It also made the use of “double fortified salt” for cooking meals mandatory.
The MHRD had also asked the state to consider engaging CSIR institutes or any other recognised lab for carrying out sample checking to ensure quality meal to children.
It also expects the local MP to preside over the meeting of the district level vigilance and monitoring committee at least at quarterly intervals.
Taking note of complaints that food grains are stored at the residence of gram pradhans or head teacher and not at kitchen-cumstore, the MHRD has asked states to ensure completion of kitchencum-store expeditiously so that food grains are stored properly.
The new guidelines also ask states to increase the number of staff engaged in inspections.