Chandigarh, May 30
Education Department is set to enhance the nutritional value of the mid-day meal for children by incorporating milk and fruit (preferably banana), following directions from the Centre.
To address the nutritional requirements of the students, the UT Administration plans to introduce milk and millet-based items, utilising its own resources. Additionally, the administration aims at developing “School Nutrition Gardens” in all schools in collaboration with local Krishi Vigyan Kendras, the Agriculture Department and the Horticulture Department.
Harsuhinder Pal Singh Brar, Director School Education, said, “Earlier, milk tenders were passed, but it could not be introduced in schools. After the Centre’s directions, the department is planning to provide milk and fruit on alternate days in government schools. The schools will have more millet-based food in the menu as well. Now, all schools will have a nutrition garden as well.”
Despite the efforts, the coverage of students in both primary and upper primary levels under the scheme remained insufficient, as observed by the Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSE&L). In light of this, the Secretary has suggested that the UT Administration implement special measures to ensure the coverage of all enrolled children in local schools under the scheme. The Secretary has requested an action taken report to be submitted by September 2023.
In an attempt to improve the situation, the administration has developed “School Nutrition Gardens” in 85, out of 121 schools, and it plans to develop 27 more such gardens during 2023-24.
The Secretary (SE&L) has advised the administration to ensure that the menu is devised in such a manner that a variety of food items may be prepared, increasing the interest of students in the school meals.
The Programme Approval Board (PAB) has also highlighted several indicators that require corrective measures to improve the overall performance of the PM Poshan scheme.
These indicators include low coverage against enrolment and underutilisation of material cost.
PU Social audit
A social audit conducted by Panjab University in 20 schools of the city has highlighted the need for several improvements. The audit report, which is awaited, has initially suggested revising the daily menu every six months, including additional items such as milk, fruit, salad, curd, and sweet dishes. It has also recommended adding more green vegetables and pulses to the weekly menu. Additionally, the involvement of parents, particularly mothers, in monitoring the provisions of the PM Poshan scheme needs to be enhanced, as per the audit’s observations.
More millet-based food to be on menu
Harsuhinder Pal Singh Brar, Director School Education, said, “After the Centre’s directions, the department is planning to provide milk and fruit on alternate days in government schools. The schools will have more millet-based food in the menu as well. Now, all schools will have a nutrition garden as well.”
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