Nagpur: The Mid Day Meal programme being undertaken in various government schools in Nagpur district has once again caught on the wrong end of the rules. This time the issue being raised is rather serious as it is directly linked to the health of children.
Even as the new academic session has started in all the schools in Nagpur, followed by the beginning of mid-day meals scheme in state-run schools, the Food and Drug Administration is sitting idle over the quality of food being served. The department has not received even a single request or letter from any of the schools for mandatory testing of cooked food before serving it to the children. This has been posing serious health threat to the students, especially in view of ongoing rainy season.
Currently mid-day meals are being served in around 2850 schools in Nagpur district. In 2016, the state government has specified the rules regarding storage of food grains, maintaining cleanliness and hygeine in kitchens. In addition to it, it was also mandated to get the cooked food tested at government-run laboratory before bringing it on the platter of students. On the basis of report so obtained, the FDA would then certify the food as safe to consume. On the contrary, the food testing is being deliberately ignored in all the schools in Nagpur.
Sources say that such an ignorance could drive the possibility of food poisoning among the students. It may be recalled that last year large number of students fell ill after consuming stale food that was served in mid day meal at a school here. Post this incident, the officials had ordered inquiry into the incident. However the department appears not to have learnt the lessons from the past incident.
FDA’s Assistant Commissioner Milind Deshpande told Nagpur Today that the department does not conduct test on the food being served under mid day meal programme. He held that the district council (parishad) CDPO is responsible for this task. However he clarified that FDA only takes food samples for testing in case of food poisoning.
The departments passing the buck on each other has clearly gone against the interest of children.
Meanwhile, District Parishad’s primary education officer Deependra Lokhande did not respond to our series of calls and texts.