As the debate around eggs in the school feeding programme resurfaces, with Madhya Pradesh government imposing a ban on eggs in anganwadi meals, nutritionists in the city feel dairy products and nuts could become an alternative source of protein for children.
While experts feel that eggs are vital source of protein—a hardboiled egg provides approximately six grams protein—they maintain there were a list of vegetarian protein alternatives available.
According to Dr Amita Singh, a consultant with department of women and child welfare, health, Raj Bhawan and Unicef, khichdi, birre ki roti, birre ke laddoo, sattu could be supplant for eggs.
“This meal when complimented with a glass of milk works best for the protein intake of children,” said the senior nutritionist.
“Tofu, soyabean, nuts and curd are other protein-rich options that can be served in the meals,” she added.
Meanwhile, dietician Dr Swara Jain talking to Hindustan Times on Saturday said as the anganwadis in the state served potatoes, lentils, chickpeas and soya, there was no need to serve eggs.
“Protein-rich mix of vegetables, including potatoes and greens meets a child’s nutrition value… (so) there is no need of serving eggs,” she said.
Dr Jain, however, said that merely depending on these meals was not the solution for malnutrition in the state. “The issue needs to get addressed from homes,” she added.
The experts feel that instead of centralising the pattern for meals at anganwadi, the administration should identify the most easily available nutrition sources in particular areas.
“The National Institute of Nutrition has laid down that if a child is provided 300 calories of food at anganwadi schools, in addition to what the child is eating at home, the problem of malnutrition can be sorted out,” Dr Singh said.
However, nutritionists have cautioned that given the budget for meal at anganwadis (Rs 4 per child), supplanting eggs with nuts and dairy products would be difficult. Expenditure could increase more than two-folds of what is being provided now feel experts.
“The six-day menu at anganwadi schools comprise different foods like dal-roti, dal-chawal, khichdi, sabzi-roti and so on. Right now, there is no milk product in the menu.
The main problem is that of budget for anganwadi meals. What protein can you provide in Rs 4 per child?” asked Sachin Jain, Right to Food activist.