In an effort to provide total nutrition to 39 lakh children below six years at anganwadis, the Women and Child Welfare Department has sought supply of full cream milk instead of skimmed milk under the Ksheera Bhagya Scheme.
Following the Express report ‘Kids don’t get full benefit of Ksheera Bhagya’ on September 4, Women and Child Welfare Department officials met Animal Husbandry Department officials and officials of the nodal agency, Karnataka Milk Federation, asking for full cream milk.
As reported, under the scheme, 150 ml of flavoured, full cream milk is being supplied to 65 lakh students from Class 1 to 10 in government schools. But the 39 lakh anganwadi children, also covered under the scheme, get skimmed milk.
Women and Child Welfare Minister Umasree told Express: “The skimmed milk gives children calcium, but we feel they are not getting the required nutrition which is possible only from full cream milk. We are trying to work out whatever is possible to ensure that anganwadi children get full cream milk and I have taken it up with the government.”
Women and Child Welfare (Integrated Child Development Scheme) joint director N Munireddy said, “There was some concern that the infants may not be able to digest full cream milk, but we have discussed this with doctors and sorted it out.”
Animal Husbandry Minister T B Jayachandra said the cost of the `400 crore scheme will go up if the anganwadi skimmed milk is replaced with full cream milk. “Last year also, we had given the anganwadis skimmed milk. But if they are very particular, we will consider their request, as the government is also aware of the nutritional value of full cream versus skimmed milk for small children,” he said.
The KMF, though, has a shortage of whole milk powder, as 25 lakh tonnes are needed to supply full cream milk to the anganwadis. The KMF is currently giving 75 lakh tonnes of full cream milk to schoolchildren aged 6 to 16. “We are currently not in a position to provide it. We cannot suddenly divert all the whole milk powder from the market. We need to balance the existing market with this additional need,” KMF marketing director Ravikumar Kakade said.
Activists and nutritional experts have suggested that such a shortage may be temporarily addressed by diverting the milk meant for high school students between 14 and 16 years.
The Education Department, is however, unaware of any such proposal from activists or KMF. “It will have to be discussed first,” Primary and Secondary Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar said.