35% kids not receiving mid-day meals, says survey; UP worst
Around 35% of children did not receive mid-day meals during the coronavirus lockdown despite government orders, a survey conducted across five Indian states has found. Notably, several state governments had issued orders on the delivery of mid-day meals to school students during the lockdown. The Centre told the Parliament on Monday that many children were deprived of hot, cooked meals during the lockdown.
The survey was conducted by Oxfam India across five states: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. A total of 1,158 parents (private and government schools) and 488 government school teachers had participated in the survey, which was conducted between May to June 2020. As part of the study, data was collected via phone/personal interviews and Google forms, the report said.
According to the Oxfam report, 35% of children did not receive their mid-day meals during the period. Only 8% of children received cooked meals, the report said, adding that 53% received dry ration while 4% received money (DBT).
Of the five states, Uttar Pradesh fared the worst with 92% of children being deprived of their mid-day meals (in any form). In Chhattisgarh, over 90% of children received mid-day meals, the highest among the surveyed states. The report noted that in UP, the government focused on providing a food security allowance, while Chhattisgarh focused on home delivery of rations.
In the Lok Sabha on Monday, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that it was not possible to provide hot, cooked meals during the lockdown. He was responding to a question by parliamentarian Komatireddy Venkat Reddy. Hence, during the pandemic, state and union territory administrations have been advised to provide Food Security Allowance (FSA) comprising food grains, pulses, oil, etc, (equivalent to cooking cost).
During March-August, the Education Ministry said 95,224,169 children were provided FSA, according to News18. The Centre told the Parliament on Monday that Goa is still awaiting clearance from the Finance Department for provisions under the FSA. Meanwhile, Rajasthan is only providing food grains while Telangana is providing food kits of 12 kg rice per person and Rs. 1,500 per family to BPL families.