In yet another incident that raises a question mark on the quality of food served in municipal schools, worms have been found in the khichdi distributed to students of the Deonar Municipal Urdu School.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) mid-day meal scheme, often criticised for its bland food, has found itself in yet another controversy.
Education committee chairperson, Rukmini Kharatmol, who visited the school on Saturday, found small worms in the khichdi and was unfit for human consumption. “I was appalled to see there were worms in food meant for school children. This is a serious matter because it is related to the health of small children.”
The mid-deal meal programme was started in civic schools, to encourage children from the poorer sections of the society to attend classes.
However, over a period, the quality of the food, being served by women groups, has deteriorated, and there have been several instances of students falling ill after consuming the food.
Civic officials said a school that runs classes from the first to the eight grade and has a total strength of 1,250 students is supplied mid-day meals by an organisation called Pooja Mahila Mandal.
Kharatmol has initiated an inquiry and has stopped distribution of mid-day meals in the Deonar school.
However, Arifa Shaikh, headmistress of the school, vouched for the food provided by the Pooja Mahila Mandal. “I taste the food every day before it is distributed to the school students. The meals supplied by the mandal are always tasty and hygienic. It is difficult to understand what went wrong on that day,” she said.
Officials from the BMC’s education department admitted that they had been receiving complaints. “If we find a contractor is supplying bad quality food, we impose a penalty and if the contractor fails to improve, we blacklist them,” said an official, on condition of anonymity.
So far, two contractors have been blacklisted.