Ahead of panchayat elections in the state, the Trinamul Congress-led government in Bengal has decided to serve cooked chicken and seasonal fruits in Mid Day Meal to students.
The additional “nutritional” food will be served for four months starting from January. The panchayat polls are likely to be held in the state within May.
This is the first time cooked chicken, egg and seasonal fruits will be included in the menu in Mid Day Meal on a regular basis.
The existing weekly Mid Day Meal menu chart does not include cooked chicken or fruits.
The state school education department has sent a circular to all district magistrates in the state to ensure that the additional food items get included in the Mid Day Meal menu chart from January 23.
As per the menu chart fixed by the government before schools mostly serve rice, dal and mixed vegetables or potato curry on most of the days a week. Egg or soya bean curry is served once in a week.
However, some schools said since there is no provision for chicken, the teachers and other staff would serve cooked chicken once in one or two months to students which the teachers and head of the respective schools would arrange on their own, a headmaster of a state-aided school said.
Leaders in the opponent camps welcomed the move to add the new components in the Mid Day Meal menu.
The Bengal government had faced several criticisms for providing poor quality food in Mid Day Meal in the past. A school in Hooghly district was allegedly found serving boiled rice with salt. Following this incident, sharp criticisms from the opposition leaders in BJP had prompted the state government to fix theMid Day Meal menu and specify what food was to be served on six days of the week.
“We welcome the move as it is important for children to eat nutritious food. But the panchayat elections in the state are round the corner. Considering the time in which the government has taken this initiative to include additional food, it is clear that there is a political motive. The ruling Trinamul aims to woo voters in the ensuing polls through this new scheme,” said a BJP leader.
The Mid Day Meal programme implemented jointly by the Centre and state aims to provide free lunch to more than one crore students studying in Classes I to VIII in the state-aided schools in Bengal.
A senior official of the school education department said the inclusion of chicken and fruits will ensure that children get a balanced diet and adequate amount of protein.
Also Read: WB govt tells schools to distribute Mid Day Meal supplies to guardians as summer vacation extendedNews, States