Taking suo moto cognizance of a HT report, the Jharkhand school education and literacy department on Thursday issued directives to government schools to follow the standard operating procedure while serving mid-day meals to the students, an official said.
Jharkhand school education and literacy department secretary Aradhna Patnaik said schools named in the HT report have been inspected and been asked to follow the standard operating procedure.
Hindustan Times in its report, “Jharkhand: Students go hungry as mid-day meal staff ‘steal’ food,” published on October 28, highlighted the rampant stealing of cooked food by mid-day meal workers at some of the schools in the state and how the students were denied their daily lunch due to the violation of the mid-day meal norms.
On Wednesday, a team of the school education department inspected Hatma Middle School in Ranchi and directed the teachers to ensure there is no violation of the mid-day meal norms, said school principal Madhubala, who goes by one name.
She further said that the school has been directed to mandatorily deploy a teacher to supervise the lunch session every day and ensure there standard procedures are followed. The practice is being followed strictly since the inspection, she added.
During the morning assembly, students were asked if they had any problems with their mid-day meals. The students shared their problems with the teachers, which would be addressed at the earliest, said Madhubala.
“We have also been directed to maintain a register for the menu and the number of platters given to the students daily,” she said.
In the standard operating procedure sent to the deputy commissioners, district superintendents of education, district education officers and divisional commissioners across the state, the department has asked them to ensure that the free lunch in the schools were prepared in hygienic conditions and the meal session is not wrapped up until each and every student is served their share of the lunch.
The standard operating procedure includes a set of guidelines to be followed every day.
“The mid-day meal scheme is running smoothly in a majority of the schools. However, there are anomalies in some schools which would be addressed as soon as possible,” said Patnaik.
According to figures with the state school education department, there are more than 45,680 government schools across the state where more than 52, 30,112 students, are provided with free lunch.
The budget for running the scheme is only Rs 3.69 per child studying in Class 1 to 6 and Rs.5.54 per student studying in Class 6 to 8. Additional Rs.12 per week has been given for supply of eggs or fruits to each student, thrice a week.