The Rajasthan government has decided to rope in students’ parents to taste midday meal before it is served in schools to ensure a stricter quality control, a senior official said.
The official said the midday meal department is busy preparing a parents’ roster for each of the 73,000 government-run schools, including 2,000 madarsas where the scheme runs.
The parents, he said, will be urged to go to the school of their children on their turn and taste the food for quality before it is served to students.
Midday meal scheme director Raghuveer Singh Meena said so far teachers and department officials checked the quality of food but since parents are also a stakeholder, the department has decided to let them do the checking and give their feedback to teachers or elected panchayati raj representatives.
Currently, 62.50 lakh students in Rajasthan receive midday meals every day. “In the last two years, complaints regarding the quality of midday meal have gone down drastically. We have reduced centralised kitchens from 22 to just six to ensure good and fresh food to schoolchildren,” Meena said.
The six centralised kitchens are in Alwar, Jodhpur, Jaipur (two in number), Rajsamand and Nathdwara.
Meena said the department has asked food security commissioners to regularly take samples from centralised kitchens and schools for testing to make sure slackness doesn’t creep in the functioning of the scheme.
Midday meal scheme additional commissioner Arvind Kumar said Rajasthan was among the top four Indian states in terms of successful implementation of the scheme. “The scheme has resulted in increased attendance in schools,” he added.
The department recently conducted a training course for 1.19 lakh cooks to ensure that good quality food is served in schools. Besides, the department officials carry out regular inspections to monitor the scheme and issue necessary guidelines from time to time for effective sanitation, hygiene and cleanliness in the areas where midday meals are cooked and served, he said.