Mid-day meal programme: Pune municipal corporation turns to private organisation for quality

In a bid to improve the quality of nutrition given to students in civic schools, thePune municipal corporation (PMC) has decided to turn to outsource the mid- day meal programme to a private organisation. As per the move,Bengaluru-basedAkshaya Patra foundation, will provide mid-day meals as an experiment.

According to officials, the said move was made after civic body began receiving complaints from school heads and teachers about the low-quality food served by the PMC affiliatedself-help groups (SHGs).

“The issue came up after we began receiving complaints against the quality and quantity of the meals. Several teachers and principals pointed out the unhygienic conditions in which the food is being prepared and we decided to handle the situation with utmost urgency. Akshaya Patra foundation,will be serving a total of 25,000 students for now,” saidYogesh Mulik, chairman of the standing committee.

As per the state government mid-day meal programme, currently, there are 183 self-help groups providing mid-day meals to over 80,000 students every day. These students range from Class 1 to Class 8. They spend Rs 4.13 per student of Class 1 to 5, and Rs 6.18 per student of Class 5 to 8, with the food menu decided based on the required number of calories needed each day.

However, the NGO is willing to spend Rs 8 per student with an assurance of hygienic and healthy meal.

With the contract in place,Akshaya Patra foundation will begin to supply meals in PMC run schools in Hadapsar and neighbouring areas.“The aim is to provide good quality and quantity food to the students, so we add our contribution to the existing amount spent by the government on each child. Also, our menu is planned as per the nutrition requirement along with student and teacher feedback. After Diwali, we plan to sit with the PMC authorities to discuss the details of the contract and the number of schools we will be covering. For now, we are planning to set up a kitchen in Handewadi area. It takes about 6 to 8 months to set up the facility, after which work in full swing,” saidAmitasana Das, regional president (Maharashtra), Akshaya Patra foundation.

The foundation, which began in 2000, has been streamlining the implementation of mid-day meal programme by collaborating with the government of India and various state governments. In Maharashtra alone, it has already collaborated withThane municipal corporation andNagpur municipal corporation run schools, in addition to PMC.

First Published: Nov 07, 2018 16:33 IST

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