Mid-day meal: With Rs 5 per student, seasonal fruits remain out of budget : The Tribune India

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Mid-day meal: With Rs 5 per student, seasonal fruits remain out of budget

Mid-day meal: With Rs 5 per student, seasonal fruits remain out of budget

Photo for representational purpose only. File photo



Tribune News Service

Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, July 10

The state government may have asked government schools to look for seasonal fruits for students’ mid-day meals, but banana remains the best option for the majority of them. Apple, mango, lychee and apricot remain out of reach due to their high cost, with each student receiving a measly Rs 5 per week for fruits.

A teacher at Government Primary School, near Field Ganj, said that mangoes cost no less than Rs 70-80 per kg, while apples cost more than Rs 150 per kg. Apricot and lychee are also priced on the higher side.

“We get only 5-6 pieces of mangoes or apples in a kg. Besides, how can we afford to provide quality seasonal fruits to students when the budget is only Rs 5 per student?” the teacher asked.

Furthermore, teachers are of the opinion that bananas are easier to bring from the market and distribute. Tehel Singh, press secretary of the Government School Teachers’ Union, stated that during the monsoon, fruits are often infested by insects, compounding the situation. “Second, as there are few fruit shops in villages, the schools have to depend on vendors from nearby towns. We can provide whatever is available within the budget. However, seasonal fruits remain out of reach,” Singh added.

Deepa, a Class III student at Government Primary School in Ludhiana 2, is the daughter of a painter and has never eaten cherries, apricots or kiwis. She only eats bananas, mangoes, and has tasted apples, which her father brings every now and then.

Manoj Kumar, Deputy DEO (Elementary), stated that bananas were distributed in most schools. Seasonal fruits are only distributed in schools with fewer students. “Teachers shell out money from their own pockets and distribute mangoes every now and then, but bananas are easily available, inexpensive and provide a complete meal, so the majority of schools prefer bananas,” the Deputy DEO added.

Last season, when the state government had asked to distribute kinnow, the farmers from Abohar, Fazilka belt witnessed good returns, but then distributing the fruit became a major ‘headache’ for teachers as they had to collect them from their respective block offices in their personal capacities, often shuttling between the school and depots in auto-rickshaws. Most of the teachers had started expressing that they felt like ‘coolies’ fetching fruit, which was not their duty.

We get only 5-6 pieces mangoes or apples in a kg. Besides, how can we afford to provide quality seasonal fruits to the students when the budget is only Rs 5 per student? — A government school teacher

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