Price rise takes a toll on mid-day meal in schools, menu changed

Hike in the prices of vegetables and other ration items has not only disturbed the budget of households, but also that of the mid-day meal scheme in Punjab government schools. The mid-day meal managers of various districts have asked the higher authorities to increase the per child expenditure, it is learnt.

Io start with, the kitchens of schools are already reduced the use of onions, garlic and milk to keep the budget within the limit. At the same time, the higher authorities have effected a slight change on the menu. The Wednesday attraction of halwa-chana has been replaced by chapati and potato-black gram curry.

While Prabhcharan Singh, general Manager, Mid-Day Meal, Punjab, said halwa-chana was dropped from the menu recently because children did not like it, schools in Fazilka, Abohar, Ferozepur and Ludhiana said halwa-chana used to be a favourite, with the dry fruits used in the halwa a special attraction.

Schools have also reduced the use of milk in kheer, which is served every Monday. "We have been given verbal instructions by the department not to use more than three litres of milk per 100 children to prepare kheer, due to the price rise," said the teacher in charge of mid-day meal in a government school of Jalandhar.

Another teacher said while they would earlier use 50 grams of onion per child to prepare daal and curries, they had now been asked to use only 10 to 15 grams.

At present, the Central government pays Rs 2.69 per student for primary schools and Rs 4.03 for middle standard schools. Looking at the price rise, the schools have demanded an enhancement of 30 paise per child.

Admitting that schools were facing problems in coping up with the present budget, Prabhcharan Singh said: "The rates will be revised by the Centre in April. As of now, some internal changes have been done to give nutritious food to the students."

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