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Mid-day meal on Harvard students’ plate

After the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai, it’s the turn of the world’s largest mid-day meal programme of rural India to make its way into the textbook of a premiere B-school, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2007 01:15 IST
Chetan Chauhan

After the Dabbawallahs of Mumbai, it’s the turn of the world’s largest mid-day meal programme of rural India to make its way into the textbook of a premiere B-school.

The Harvard Business School (HBS) is all set to introduce a paper for the first-year MBA students where the midday meal programme would be taught as a case study to educate them on precise time management.

Earlier, the daily food distribution process by dabbawallahs had become part of an undergraduate MBA course in Cambridge and MS University in United States.

Christine Ellis, a student of the business school and part of a team that visited India last year, to carry out a field study on the programme said that the time management starts from the preparation of the meal and lasts the entire distribution process.

“Any delay at any level can disrupt the entire chain and can lead to chaos. It is because of this precise time management that the scheme is running so well in Indian cities,” Ellis observed. She also found it to be a well-coordinated effort between the government, the NGOs and the parents and considered it to be a unique programme for success at any level.

The Harvard business school students studied the mid-day meal scheme in urban centers of India, where food is cooked in a centralized modern kitchen and then distributed to thousands of schools within a few hours. The centralized kitchens are unique to urban centers as in rural areas the kitchens have been constructed in the schools itself.

In Bangalore, the food is distributed to approximately 3,000 government schools in two hours, once the meal is ready. Each van used for the midday meal programme is assigned a certain number of schools for food distribution.

"The vans deliver the meal in each school and then waits at the last school for children to finish the meal. On its way back, it collects the empty vessels,” said Chanchalapathi Das, vice-chairperson of Akshaya Patra, the NGO that runs the scheme in Bangalore.

Similar kitchens operate in cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata.

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