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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Government may ask jail inmates to help with mid-day meals

The mid-day meal scheme is one of the largest schemes run by the HRD ministry and aims to provide nutritious meals to children in schools.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2018 09:07 IST
Amandeep Shukla
Amandeep Shukla
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Students of Government Middle School at Parsouriya village in Sagar eating their mid-day meal on pieces of papers.
Students of Government Middle School at Parsouriya village in Sagar eating their mid-day meal on pieces of papers.(HT Photo)
         

The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry is exploring the idea of having mid-day meals for schools cooked in prisons with the help of inmates, based on a kitchen being run within a jail in Chandigarh for an Aanganwadi scheme, according to a senior official in the ministry who asked not to be named.

The ministry is keen on assessing whether a similar or a modified model to the Chandigarh pilot can work for the mid-day meal scheme. It may also help the inmates to earn an honorarium, the official added.

“There have been discussions about the idea in the ministry on how this concept of using kitchens within jails can serve a dual purpose. Not only can the wide space available in some prison compounds serve as infrastructure for mid-day meal kitchens but the move could also provide a novel channel to utilise the energy of inmates for a noble cause,” the official added.

The mid-day meal scheme is one of the largest schemes run by the HRD ministry and aims to provide nutritious meals to children in schools.

According to ministry data, in 2017-18, at least 94.6 million children benefitted from the food served in 1.13 million schools under the scheme.

The ministry has sought to encourage community participation in the mid day meal scheme, the official said.

Even among the cook-cum-helpers engaged for the scheme, as many as 2.5 million belong to the weaker sections, this person added. In another bid to boost community participation under the programme, the ministry has also encouraged the practice of local communities cooking food for school children under the scheme.

The concept of ‘Tithi Bhojan’, a community participation programme was initiated by the Gujarat government. Last month, the HRD ministry provided detailed guidelines for the ‘Tithi bhojan’ scheme to other states too, the official said.

The prison idea is a good one, said a person working for an NGO focused on children.

First Published: Nov 20, 2018 09:07 IST

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