Students of Hatma middle school in Ranchi savour their midday meal with eggs on Friday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Children at government schools across Jharkhand enjoyed nutritious food on Friday, thanks to the state chapter of Right to Food Campaign that launched Anda Abhiyan to press for full-fledged implementation of National Food Security Act (2013) in the state.
Although eggs were a part of the Friday midday meal across all state-run schools of 19 districts, those associated with the campaign formally launched the drive at Hatma middle school in Ranchi. Amid a group of prominent invitees, 233 children of the middle school were served an egg each with their regular lunch.
While some of the students said they rarely got eggs, teachers claimed that eggs were being served at least twice every month.
“With eggs selling at Rs 5 a piece, it is difficult to serve eggs every Friday as the allotment for a single student is only Rs 3.51 a day,” said a teacher, on the condition of anonymity.
Balram, state adviser to Supreme Court appointed commissioner in Right to Food cases, however, differed. “If purchased in bulk, the rate comes down to below Rs 4 a piece,” he argued.
When pointed out that it was still higher than the allotted amount of Rs 3.51, he said the school spent much less on other days and the extra amount can be saved for providing eggs.
“The state government has now decided to serve eggs on two to three days every week and has sanctioned an additional amount of Rs 132 crore for the purpose,” Balram added.
Rooplaxmi Munda, chairperson of Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), who was also present on the occasion, said she would write to the government to facilitate better meal to children.
SCPCR member and paediatrician Sunita Katyayan emphasised on the consumption of eggs. “It helps the overall development of a child,” she said.
“Thanks to this campaign, thousands of children in 19 districts across the state savoured eggs for their Friday lunch,” said Ankita Aggarwal, member of the state branch of Right to Food Campaign, a national network of professionals working towards ensuring food security.
This campaign is a part of a number of agitations to press for full-fledged implementation of National Food Security Act (2013) in Jharkhand.
Balram added that the act not only provided a daily nutritious meal to every child, but also maternity entitlements of Rs 6,000 for every pregnant woman.