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Rs 920 nutrition nudge to Navodaya school meal

Ranchi, Oct. 24: Essential proteins and vitamins will enrich a staple diet of rice and potatoes at all the 22 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) — autonomous residential schools for underprivileged children — in the state.

The 46th meeting of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti’s finance committee, which was held a week ago, decided to jack up the mess expenditure of JNVs by 15 per cent in the wake of rising prices of foodgrains and vegetables.

Accordingly, the monthly food expenses per student will increase from Rs 800 to Rs 920. The new rate will come into effect from the first week of November.

This is the third time the mess rate is being revised. In April 2007, the monthly food allowance per student was Rs 675. However, prolonged campaigning by JNV heads prompted the governing Samiti to hike the dole to Rs 800.

But the amount wasn’t sufficient to provide a nutritional diet of green vegetables, fruits and milk to students every month as market prices fluctuated.

Speaking to The Telegraph, principal of JNV, Ranchi, Poonam S. Bara welcomed the decision to hike the mess allowance further. She said they would now be able to provide a healthy diet to every student. “The menu will change and the quality of food improve,” she asserted.

For breakfast, bread and milk, fried rice and puri-subzi will replace jaggery and gram. Lunch will be one step up from just rice, dal and potato curry. Green vegetables, egg, papad, pickle and occasionally chicken will pep up the afternoon menu. Vegetable curry, chapatti, rice and dal, to be wrapped up with a sweet dish, will make dinner more delectable for the 550-odd residents of every JNV.

Fruits rich in vitamins and minerals will also be part of the diet. “We used to give students fruits only once a week. From now on, the platters will be on offer at least thrice a week. Maybe, even four days a week,” Bara said.

Echoing her, principal of JNV, Godda, M.N. Banerjee said they were also eyeing a healthy diet of milk products, rich in protein and calcium, and vegetables rich in iron, for students. “We’ll also have non-vegetarian items like chicken.”

Banerjee, however, added that the revised dole was still inadequate. “It should be Rs 1,000 per child if we take the costs of vegetables, fruits and milk into consideration,” he suggested.

Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti is an autonomous organisation under the Union HRD ministry and a wing of the department of school education and literacy.

In Jharkhand, there is one JNV in every district, except for newly created Khunti and Ramgarh. Proposals are on anvil to set up the co-educational and residential school, which boasts Classes VI to XII, in both districts.

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