Over 5,000 midday meal checks in four months

Three cases of food poisoning were reported back-to-back last year after students consuming midday meals. This has forced authorities to keep a close watch on midday meal suppliers as well as school staff.

The Union human resource development ministry began quarterly monitoring of the implementation of the midday meal scheme in states and Union territories across the country since June last year. Goa has registered huge improvements since the first quarterly report was prepared at the beginning of the academic year 2011-12.

The fourth quarterly report prepared in the last four months of the academic year 2011-12 states that Goa topped the country in inspections of midday meals. Goa officials had conducted 5,159 inspections in 1,564 government and government-aided schools where meals were supplied.

Conducting 330% inspections, Goa even ousted the country's capital which was close behind with 322% inspections. By the fourth quarterly report, Goa also held one meeting of the state steering-cum-monitoring committee for midday meals. The state had not conducted even a single meeting until the first half of the academic year 2011-12.

While Goa had not covered any school students under the national health programme of the midday meal scheme at the start of the academic year, in the last four months of the academic year Goa covered 50,648 students from 1,070 schools. Other than conducting health check-ups for the students, the children were provided with iron folic tablets and spectacles where required and distributed vitamin and de-worming tablets.

Goa was also among the few states that submitted its midday meal quarterly report on time. The state had also utilized the entire quota of grains allotted to it for preparation of midday meals. By the end of the academic year 2011-12, Goa had supplied meals to students for the entire 220 working days of schools.

Much remains for the state to achieve as the 25 lakh allotted by the Centre for monitoring and evaluation of the scheme remained unutilized. [TOI]