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Kitchen plan for safe midday meal

If all goes well, over 25,000 students of 250 state-run schools located within 8km of Bokaro steel city can hope to enjoy safe and quality midday meal from October.

The Bokaro district administration is busy firming up a deal with Bangalore-based NGO Akshaya Patra Foundation, which currently feeds midday meal to over 1.3 million children across the country every day, to set up a centralised kitchen by the end of next month.

Bokaro Steel has come forward to sponsor the venture under corporate social responsibility (CSR) besides agreeing to provide land for the kitchen along with other essentials like staff, free electricity and utensils. Apart from the initial investment of around Rs 5 crore, the steel major will shell out Rs 1 crore per month.

Only, a final approval from state human resource development minister Geetashree Oraon is now awaited.

“We have prepared a blueprint to serve food to students of 250 government schools operational in Bokaro steel city, Chas and nearby areas. The file has been sent to the HRD minister,” said district education officer Rajiv Lochan.

He added that they zeroed in on Akshaya Patra after a recce of its Bangalore kitchen by an 11-member team, led by former HRD secretary Mridula Verma. “A team from Akshaya Patra will come here and impart training to the staff provided by Bokaro Steel. The NGO experts will monitor the services at the kitchen for the first six months. Once satisfied that everything is fine, they will leave but two experts will stay back,” Lochan said.

Bokaro Steel’s chief of communications Sanjay Tewary confirmed that the company would provide funds under CSR for which a final approval has already been taken from Steel Authority of India.

“The government, on its part, will provide rice, foodgrains, vegetables for preparing meals. Our job is to see that quality food is served to the students,” he said.

Bokaro has 1,760 government schools that serve midday meal prepared by their staff to around 1.75 lakh children. The administration will not be able to provide food to all of them from the centralised kitchen because of the remote locations and tough terrain.