In a school in Chhattisgarh, the mid-day meal is just rice and turmeric.


School officials said they have not received any vegetables for almost a week.

Raipur:

Denying reports of children in other states being served chapatis and salt in their lunch, a school in Chhattisgarh is serving its students plain rice with only turmeric added to it. Vegetables are absent, as are pulses on several occasions, which would have enabled young children to eat at least some khichdi.

The state education department has a set menu for the mid-day meal, which promises a variety of nutritious foods. However, the reality of schools and some other institutions shows that the menu remains only on paper.

Malnutrition rate in Chhattisgarh is 17.76% in 2022.

Bijakura Primary School, located in Bijakura village, Patelpara, Balarampur, provides mid-day meal to 43 students and officials admitted that they have not been serving any vegetables for almost a week. Meals consist of rice and lentils or just turmeric rice.

The head teacher in charge of the school attributed the lack of vegetables to the non-delivery by the mid-day meal providers, who claim that the supply has been stopped due to non-payment of their dues. Amidst the blame game, it is the children who are being deprived of a balanced diet mandated by the government.

“The vegetables have not been provided by the suppliers, due to which we cannot serve them,” said the head teacher.

District Education Officer Devendranath Mishra assured immediate investigation and action. “This matter has come to my notice through you. I will look into it today and action will be taken as per rules,” Mr Mishra told NTV.

Local officials and school staff members also said that a shortage of equipment was to blame.

“The group responsible for providing vegetables is negligent, due to which we are unable to serve proper food to the children,” explained ward panch Ram Prasad Ram.

Cook Sukhya Devi added, “If we don't get vegetables, we can't serve them to the children. Sometimes we have dal and rice, sometimes just rice. When we ask for vegetables, suppliers say they are available. Are not.”

Anganwadis also hit.

The problem at Bijakura Primary School is part of a wider problem in nutrition programs in Chhattisgarh. The state government distributes ready-to-eat nutritious food to combat malnutrition among children and pregnant women, but disruptions in the supply chain have halted deliveries to the state's 52,474 anganwadi centers for more than a week. Is. Among their other roles, these centers provide supplementary nutrition to infants and pregnant children.

An inspection by NDTV confirmed that the supply of nutritious food for July, expected to arrive in June, is yet to be delivered to many Anganwadi centers including the capital Raipur.

“We have not yet received nutritional food for July, and this is causing concern among parents and guardians,” said Premalata, an assistant at the Vinoba Bhavengar Anganwadi Center in Raipur, confirming the delay.

Similar reports have also come from Anganwadi, an Utkal settlement in the city, but the case has spread beyond Raipur.

Anganwadi centers in Gorilla-Pendra-Marwahi district, including Pendra, among others, are also facing supply disruptions.

“The delay in providing nutritious food is worrisome. We depend on these supplies to ensure the health of the children and pregnant women we serve,” said Sangeeta Sunwani, Anganwadi Sahaika.

Uma Sunwani from Bhattapara Anganwadi center added, “The situation is dire. We need the government to address this issue immediately to prevent malnutrition among our beneficiaries.”

'No file stuck'

Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel criticized the current administration for changing a system that was working efficiently. “Our government had established a strong system, but it was changed. When will nutritious food be available again?” he asked.

Women and Child Development Minister Lakshmi Rajwade, however, maintained that the distribution of nutritious food was continuing. “Ready-to-eat food is being supplied continuously, there is no file stuck. The Congress government has given the contract to Seed Corporation to manufacture ready-to-eat food. We have entrusted the work to self-help groups,” he said. ,” They said. .

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