Some schools in Karnataka struggle for foodgrains to prepare midday meals

Teachers and members of School Development and Monitoring Committees in some districts of Karnataka are finding it tough to provide schoolchildren with midday meals due to delay in the supply of foodgrains.

A few schools are approaching donors to get rice and other items, while some have asked children to bring lunch from home.

The State Government opened schools after relaxing COVID-19 restrictions in a phased manner. The Education Department instructed the schools to start midday schools on October 25. With the available foodgrains, schools started to cook. However, the stock has not yet reached most of the schools.

Venkatesh Hegde, chairman of the SDMC at Megaravalli in Thirthahalli, told The Hindu that a donor contributed 50 kg of rice recently. “Every day we need 17.5 kgs of rice for 170 students. If we do not get the stock in the next three-four days, we will face problems again,” he said. However, this is not the problem faced by one school, but many others too.

A teacher in Shivamogga, who wished not to be named, said with no rice and dal to cook, the staff had told the students to bring lunch from home. Schools in towns and cities could ask children to bring food from home. “Most of our students come from distant places. They cannot carry lunch as they leave home early to reach school. We have to provide them food,” said Mr. Hegde.

The officers of the Education Department, well aware of this problem, have told the staff members to purchase the essential items by spending the amount meant for the purchase of vegetables, cooking oil, salt and other food items. The government provides ₹ 2 per child per day to procure these times. “We are making use of the amount to purchase rice, which was earlier supplied by the government. The schools with high students’ strength may have sufficient amount to manage, but not small schools with meagre strength,” said a teacher in Hassan, who wished not to be named.

The officers point out that the technical problems with the supply of food grains would be sorted out within a couple of days. The schools would also get the funds they required.

Deputy Director of Public Instructions in Shivamogga N.M. Ramesh told The Hindu, “There was no shortage in supply of foodgrains. We have instructed the staff to make use of the funds available. They are all managing with the money they have.”

Sources in Education Department in Raichur too said that supplies for the scheme are yet be streamlined. Schools in the district have not received dal, an essential component of the midday meal.

“We have received all the major items required for midday meal preparation except for pulses without which midday meal preparation is not possible. We have, however, asked the school authorities to procure the required items from local fair price shops and return equal quantity of the items after they get their supplies,” an officer said, adding it might take a week to streamline the process.

(With additional inputs by Kumar Buradikatti at Kalaburagi)

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