File photo of children eating a mid-day meal used for representational purpose only.
File photo of children eating a mid-day meal used for representational purpose only.(Photo | Express)

Odisha: Teachers at their wit’s end as price rise of essential items upsets MDM plate

However, the current state of prices of essential commodities is making it challenging for the teachers to keep the plate nutritious.

BERHAMPUR: With government schools all set to reopen in a day, teachers are at their wit’s end over management of the mid day meals (MDMs) as prices of essential commodities have shot through the roof in the state.

Those entrusted with MDM management say it would be difficult to provide nutritious food with the funds allocated by the government, especially for those belonging to the segments that face challenges of adequate nourishment.

According to teachers of primary schools, government pays Rs 5.90 per student from class 1 to 5 and Rs 8.82 per head for students of class 6-8 towards MDM per day. While government supplies rice, the allotted funds are to cover cooking, edible oil, dal, spices and egg. The government also pays the remuneration of cook separately.

However, the current state of prices of essential commodities is making it challenging for the teachers to keep the plate nutritious. As per norms, the MDM consists of cooked rice, dal and curry but prices of vegetables; particularly the cost of potato, onion sold in the range of Rs 45 to Rs 50 per kg might upset the budget.

Teachers say even though the government has directed to provide nutritious food, it is not possible to meet the nutrition guidelines due to the sharp rise in prices of vegetables and other cooking essentials in the recent days. “One egg costs Rs 7. How come a meal including one egg is possible with the allocation of Rs 5.90 per head?” wondered a teacher.

Apart from vegetables and dal, each student is supposed to be provided egg twice a week as part of the meal. Added to the worry is the cost of cooking which is on the rise since LPG cylinder price has increased too and is met from the allotted funds.

As officials in the district education department remain tightlipped over the matter, the teachers say they will have to devise cost-cutting measures.

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The New Indian Express
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