“If the oil is adulterated, the children usually fall sick after consuming food,” says deputy director, mid-day meal, SK Tewari. While conducting the study, the IIM team interacted with students and asked them about the food served to them under the scheme.
A majority of the children said they would prefer puri and sabzi rather than tahari or roti.
Though the IIM team has told the state government about its study, the education department officials are not very enthusiastic about the findings. An officer said puri was removed from the mid-day meal two years ago when several children fell ill after consuming it in Pilibhit district.
“The death of 22 children after taking mid-day meal in Bihar’s Chhapra district is a lesson for us,” said the officer and added the preliminary investigation report indicates adulterated edible oil was used to cook the food in the school at Dahrmasati Gandawan village. After receiving complaints about large-scale irregularities in distribution of mid-day meal over the years, the state government decided to revise the menu.
Besides banning the use of unpacked (open) edible oil for cooking meals, the government has also decided to hire as cooks those women whose children are enrolled in the schools.
A committee consisting parents was constituted to monitor the food quality, Tewari said.
The mid-day meal department has prepared a six-day menu chart to ensure that children get nutritious food in school.