Midday meal door opens to private kitchens -Basant Kumar Mohanty
Nearly 10 crore children have the midday meal in 11 lakh schools every working day
New Delhi: The Centre has allowed privately managed centralised kitchens to be engaged to serve food to schoolchildren in rural areas under its midday meal scheme — a decision it had earlier announced in May 2017 only to roll back in April this year — raising fears of loss of jobs for thousands of cooks.
Trade unions, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), described as “unjustified” the decision of the human resource development ministry, announced in guidelines issued last week, and said it would add to the current job crisis.
More than 25 lakh cooks-cum-helpers are employed in schools. The central government gives an honorarium of Rs 1,000 a month to each cook-cum-helper while most states add varying amounts from their own budget.
Economist Reetika Khera said kitchens in schools allow better scrutiny of the meals, by parents and teachers, than a centralised kitchen would. Outsourcing the meals to private agencies would also increase costs, she said.
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