In an affidavit submitted before the Delhi High Court on Wednesday,the Directorate of Education admitted that the current menu being provided under the mid-day meal (MDM) scheme in government schools in the capital was not meeting the nutritional norms for primary as well as upper primary schoolchildren.
The report further stated that the quantity of food being served was also insufficient,and about 45.1 per cent children demanded extra portions.
The report filed by Additional Director of Education Madhu Rani Teotia before the High Court bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog also stated that according to the analysis of the midday meal samples by the Sriram Institute for Industrial Research,the nutritional value of the food being served to the children was far below the stipulated norms.
Why is there no clear guideline on testing, the court asked after perusing the report,which says that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) guidelines only focused on tasting of food by teachers before serving it to children,and not on testing the quality of food.
The High Court issued notice to the Central government after Delhi government counsel Zubeda Begum informed the court that 75 per cent of the finances for the mid-day meal scheme were disbursed by the Central government.
The Delhi High Court has been monitoring the issue of mid-day meals and other facilities being provided to students in government schools since 2010. The government submits its status reports on mid-day meal scheme on a regular basis,informing the court of steps taken to improve the quality and standard of food being served to schoolchildren.
In the affidavit submitted on Wednesday,the Directorate of Education claimed that the method of quality testing had been recently changed from the dry method to the more stringent wet method. This revealed that the nutritional parameters of the meal were less than the prescribed norms.
Issue notice the government of India through Secretary,MHRD, the court said.
The Education department report also said the Delhi government had sent a number of representations to the MHRD seeking directions regarding testing of the food served to the children in schools,and the weight and quantity of food to be served to each child. Reply from the MHRD is still awaited, the affidavit said.