The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat, has asked Mid-day Meal Scheme commission of the state government to make “immediate provisions” for advanced midday meal (ration and cooking cost) to all primary school-going children amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic situation.
In a letter dated to commissioner, the civil rights organization’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees said, 51,04,032 children of 32,891 primary schools of Gujarat come from “very poor families”. And as all schools of the state are currently closed because of the nationwide lockdown, these poor children, who used to get midday meal in their schools, are not getting the meal.
Pointing out that the Government of India, through a letter dated March 20, and the midday meal commissioner through a circular dated March 26, had ordered providing ration and cooking cost for midday meal for the period from March 16 to March 29, Nafees said, “It is very sad to see that no arrangements have been made in this regard after March 30.”
Immediate orders should be issued to all concerned officials for midday meal without any break to 51 lakh poor children till June
Nafees said, the main objective of the midday meal scheme is to eradicate malnutrition among children, adding, the purpose of this scheme will be defeated if the government makes alternatives arrangements for midday meal to these children after a long gap.
According to him, the government machinery should keep the health and nutrition issues of children in top priorities during the current tragic health situation and make all efforts to reach to the children safely, asking the midday meal commissioner to issue “immediate orders for sanctioning the ration and cooking cost for the midday Meal for one month (April 2020) in advance.”
Asking the state government to include all children in the Ann Brahm Scheme, under which anyone whose names do not appear in ration cards, are also provided with food grains, Nafees said, immediate orders should be issued to all concerned officials for midday meal without any break to all children till June 2020.