While almost all other districts in Karnataka have started distributing eggs/chikki in midday meals, public school students in Bangalore who are supported by non-governmental organizations have yet to receive them. Many other districts received eggs over two days in July, with the official order arriving at the end of the month.
The Department of Public Instruction is now considering releasing funds for School Development and Monitoring Committees (SDMC) for the purchase of eggs/chikki.
“Some NGOs that provide meals to a large number of schools have a policy of not donating eggs. In many other parts of the country, eggs are served by another partner. We are considering releasing money for SDMCs and asking them to get eggs,” said Vishal R.Commissioner, Department of Public Instruction.
“Unlocking the money can take a bit of time. But the eggs are given away for 46 days this school year. If there is a slight delay in starting the program, schools can increase the number of days per week students receive eggs and compensate for that,” he said.
Many other districts where NGOs provide meals have also started distribution through SDMCs.
Meanwhile, a group of nutritionists, educators and activists have raised the issue in a letter to the Chief Secretary. “We are concerned that some NGOs operating centralized kitchens refuse to serve eggs to children citing religious reasons. It should be noted that the propagation of one’s own religious practices is prohibited under the 2017 Revised Guidelines for the Engagement of Civil Society Organizations/NGOs in the Midday Meal Program,” the group said in the letter.
They also asked for more days with eggs in the program. “Introducing only 46 eggs per year is less than the recommended consumption of five eggs per week. Also, children studying in grades 9 and 10 have not been included in the egg distribution scheme,” the campaigners pointed out. “The provision of eggs during midday meals should be extended to students in classes 9 and 10 and five days a week.”
A tweet triggers a debate
Meanwhile, a tweet from Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, chairman of Adamya Chetana which provides meals for two lakh children, has sparked debate on social media. “Why has our government of Karnataka decided to give eggs in the midday meal? It is not the only source of nutrition. It is also exclusive for many vegetarian students. Our policies must be designed in such a way that that every student has the same opportunity,” she wrote.
Many criticized her for her tweets that said “the idea that the egg will solve malnutrition is very wrong” and “eggs are extremely difficult in terms of quality control”.
She then tweeted: “We are committed to providing nutritious meals to children through the government midday meal program in accordance with rules designed for the health and well-being of children. However, we need to talk to nutrition experts, educators and social scientists and find a solution (sic). »