BENGALURU: Eggs will finally be part of the midday meal diet in Karnataka schools, albeit in select districts where students face nutritional deficiencies.From this year, as many as 14,44,322 children from seven districts will get an egg every day in their midday meals for 46 school days.
Following a demand by nutritionists for several years, and a year’s wait for the department after seeking the Centre’s approval, eggs will be part of midday meals for Classes 1 to 8 in government and aided schools in the select districts.
The central government will bear the entire cost of the programme under its flexifund component. The cost is estimated to be Rs 3,953.14 lakh this year, as per officials from the education department.
The department had sought to start the scheme in two districts, but the Centre asked for a rollout in seven. Instead of giving students eggs for 236 days in these districts, the department will only do so up to 46 days, as per the officials.
Commissioner of Public Instruction Anbu Kumar told TNIE that Yadgir, Raichur, Bidar, Ballari, Kalaburagi, Koppal and Vijaypura will be covered under the scheme. In a department meeting with Anita Karwal, secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, the state was told to provide supplementary nutrition items in aspirational districts and those with high prevalence of malnutrition -- districts where prevalence of anemia is more as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS).
As eggs are a sensitive food to be introduced in the diet, education officials of Dharwad and Kalaburagi districts will visit Tamil Nadu to study the implementation of the scheme there. While the department is planning to increase the number of days when eggs are distributed to 150 in the coming days, there is no indication that eggs will be included in the state-funded midday meal scheme for classes 9 to 10.
A vegetarian alternative is also being finalised, and although an option was sought from the Karnataka Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd (KMF), a source said that none was received. Hence, the education department is looking at providing energy balls, or alternatives, based on the local taste of the two regions — Dharwad and Kalaburagi.
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