Mid-day meal: Dead lizard, scorpion being served to school kids

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School students eating mid-day meal
The recent incidents related to Mid-day meal schemes have brought back the controversial Government scheme into light. The scheme, one of the biggest of its kind in the world, covering more than 60 million children, was started with an aim to provide safe and nutritious meal to school kids in the country, but over the past few years it has turned out to be disaster.

Instead of nutritious food, our future generation is being served worms, insects and even lizards in the food.

Nearly fifty students of a Government primary school fell ill in Bihar on Friday after eating their mid-day meal in which a dead lizard was found. This was the fourth such incident in the last one month in the State. A week ago, 12 students fell ill in Buxar district after eating their mid-day meal at Government school. In Vaishali district, 33 students fell sick on 18 July and in Siwan district 25 kids took ill on 11 July after having their mid-day meal.

In early July, a dead snake was found in the mid-day meal served to students. According to education department officials, there have been 14 cases of poisoning in the past seven months in Bihar only.

What is mid-day meal?

The scheme was designated to improve the nutritional status of school going children nationwide. The scheme launched on small scale decades ago, received the support of Supreme Court in 2001. Since then, most India States have adopted it, offering free meals to children in Government schools. One of the aims to initiate the scheme was to persuade poor families to send their kids to schools. But, recent tragedies have left many families asking if sending their kids to schools is safe or not.

The scheme has also been plagued with instances of corruption, mis-management and lax health and safety guidelines.

MMS, looks promising only on paper

Reports suggest that majority of meals being served to lakhs of students in the national capital has failed test conducted by Government.
In 2013, a report by North Delhi Municipal Corporation revealed that 75 per cent of mid-day meal samples collected failed to meet the criteria. Of the 36 samples collected, 27 failed in the test conducted by Shri Ram Institute for Industrial Research.

There have been 14 cases of poisoning in the past seven months in Bihar

In 2010-11, just five of 466 samples tested passed the quality test.

In 2011-12, 27 samples passed out of 541 that were tested.

The idea was to increase school attendance and along with providing them with healthy food.

History of mid-day meal horrors:

In July 2013, 23 students died after having the infected food in Saran district of Bihar.

At least 39 children fell ill after consuming food, contaminated by a dead scorpion at their school in Dhenkonal district of Odisha.

On 31st July 2013, 55 students at Government middle school fell ill at Kalyuga village in Jamui district after their midday meal provided by an NGO.

All the above incidents highlighted the deteriorating quality of food being provided to the kids. The Education department should lay down strict rules and check whether the schools are adhering to them.

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