A Dash of Sweetness for Mid-day Meal
By Express News Service | Published: 07th February 2014 08:24 AM |
The Odisha Government is toying with the idea of introducing laddu - made of millets - in the menu of mid day meal (MDM) to add a “dash of sweetness” for the school children. It is also contemplating to add banana to the platter.
At a high-level meeting here on Thursday, the addition of a sweet dish in form of millet laddu and fruit in form of banana was discussed. In fact, laddu was not the only dish discussed as the meeting also looked at options such as “kheeri” as well as “porridge,” both made of millet.
Currently, students of Class I to VIII are served rice, dalma, soya chunks and egg curry in different combinations from Monday to Saturday. Both Wednesdays and Saturdays remain the most sought after as egg curry is served on these two days.
“We plan to serve laddu and banana with rice and dalma in Monday’s menu. These two may help augment student retention in the schools which was the case after egg was introduced,” official sources said.
For the School and Mass Education Department, introduction of egg proved a game-changer in the MDM scheme as attendance in schools went up substantially. Students, mostly girls and those from poorer section of society for whom egg continues to be a dear commodity, were drawn to MDM. Department sources said millet has been selected keeping in view its high nutritional value. Besides, the Centre has also prescribed introduction of millet in the meals. However, financial implications of millet laddu and banana are being analysed though it is roughly estimated at ` 65 crore.
“We have to seek subsidy from the Centre for introducing laddu and banana in the MDM. If the Centre turns it down, the State will have to devise a plan but all this is at a preliminary stage as of now,” sources said.
At least 54.21 lakh school children avail the MDM scheme across 63,531 institutions in the State and a staggering ` 820 crore is spent annually on the supplementary nutrition scheme.
Meanwhile, the State Government is also gearing up to set up 10,000 modern kitchen rooms for preparation of MDM and these kitchens would be complete with cooking gas, water tap and sanitation facilities.