With an aim to improve the standard of mid-day meals in government schools, the Punjab education department had given the mid-day meals contract to private contractors.
But the experiment has not succeeded as teachers are complaining about the poor quality of meals.
With hardly any check on the quality of food, the number of beneficiaries has decreased in the last month. It has raised questions about the seriousness of the authorities to provide healthy meal on daily basis to 92 primary schools, governmentaided schools and government schools falling under the Patiala municipal corporation.
As per available information, the government has given the contract to a certain West Bengal firm, which has been supplying food to these schools after preparing it at the local Focal Point area.
One of the school teachers, on the condition of anonymity, said house flies and other insects were often found in food supplied by the contractor. Contractors often change the menu on their own without informing the school authorities.
“The matter has been brought to the notice of the authorities concerned but to no avail, a teacher said.
A random visit to different schools revealed that the contractors fail to supply food on time. It was found that either the school authorities received the food early in the morning around 9 am, while at many of the school, it reached after the lunch. Jagjit Singh Nohra, state president of the Sikhya Vikas Manch, said the teachers had reported that the contractors fail to provide chapattis in many of the schools, while most of the time, only sweet dish (kheer) was served.
“Students have refused to take the food, while in many schools, parents argue with teachers about its poor quality”, he said. Admitting that they have received several complaints from different schools, mid-day meal district in charge Ranbir Singh said the senior authorities had been apprised about the complaints of the teachers. “We have also issued warning to the contractors to improve the quality at the earliest. complaining to us”, he said.