New Delhi: While a nutritious meal is the requirement for a healthy body and an agile mind, most mid-day meals served in Delhi schools have failed the very parameter. Most of the meal samples collected from various organisations that cater to the Delhi government schools have been found to be below standard and they also lack required nutrition content.
An RTI reply has revealed that about 80 to 90 per cent of the meal samples collected for laboratory testing between 2010 and 2014 failed to comply with the nutrition standards set by the authorities for mid day meals. In 2010, 333 samples failed the nutrition test out of 352 collected. In 2011, out of 565 meal samples collected for testing, 541 were found to be below par the nutrition value. The samples failing the nutrition value test in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were 500 out of 559, 502 out 0f 626 and 119 out of 142 respectively, according to the RTI.
The city government has a total of 37 service providers for the mid-day meals in government-run schools in the national capital. A total of `77,25,439 was imposed as penalty for failing to meet the requisite nutrition standards in the period between 2010 and 2014 on these service providers. “A penalty of `18,89,171 was imposed on these service providers in the fiscal year 2010-11, Rs 24,62,977 in 2011-12, Rs 16,87,126 in 2012-13 and `16,86,165 in 2013-14,” the RTI has revealed.
The RTI has also found lapses with the nutrition content of the meals served in the schools run by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation. In 2015-16, 165 samples were collected out of which 93 failed to meet the nutrition content test. While no meal sample failed the laboratory test in 2016-17, out of the 145 meal samples collected, two samples have not met the nutrition standards out of 34 collected between April this year till August.
Time and again, questions have been raised in the nutrition value of the mid-day meals served in the government schools and the alarming statistics only reinforce the need to supplement these meals with healthier options. In 2001, the Supreme Court passed an order stating, “A basic entitlement of every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary Schools with a prepared mid-day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days.”
The Aam Aadmi Party government had recently included bananas and eggs in the mid-day meals served in the Delhi government schools in a bid to make them healthier. The government had pumped in Rs 55 crore in its annual budget 2017-18 for the mid day meal scheme and had also planned to expand the scheme’s coverage to all students of Class IX to XII in girls schools.