The government has once again revised the mid-day meal menu, but without increasing the cost of cooking and remuneration of cook-cum-helpers, which has left the school managements with a bad taste.
To serve a more nutritious platter to the children, the government has now asked school authorities to add vegetables to the menu on Mondays and Tuesdays, which were earlier served on Fridays only but per child expenditure for the time being has not been revised. Cook-cum-helpers, too, would be required to put in extra effort but sans any incentive.
At present, the government pays `3.34 per child to primary schools and `5 to upper primary government, aided and local bodies schools.
Cook-cum-helpers are paid a fixed amount of `1,200 for 10 months excluding the vacations.
School managements have been ruing the inadequate funds given the ever-rising inflation and cooking costs but in vain.
Sources revealed that school heads sometimes fudge figures to dress up their accounts.
"You cannot expect the teachers or school heads to pay from their pockets so they would either misrepresent students' strength or bargain with the quality of food", said a teacher on the condition of anonymity.
"Monetary assistance is not regular and schools are never paid in advance, so the school authorities have to make arrangements at their own level to continue the provision of mid-day meal", he added.
Notably, students of Classes 1 to 5 are to be provided 100 gram food and of Classes 5 to 8, 150 grams of food daily. The menu is set without taking into account local requirements of the consumers, as a result of which many students do not relish the food, said the sources.
"It is good to improve students' diet but at the same time, the government must also raise the dietary fund', said a teacher.
"Fuel charges are also to be paid from the same fund which makes the situation more tight," he said. District education officer (primary) Ram Pal said that the department had no say in policy matters.