Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Akshaya Patra suppliers to be engaged for midday meals: Manohar Parrikar

TIMES OF INDIA: PANAJI: Schools where the parent teacher association and the headmaster are unwilling to take responsibility of checking the quality of food being served under the midday meal scheme, will face the discontinuation of the supply of meals until the state comes up with a better system, chief minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday.

Goa education officials have visited Karnataka to observe implementation of the Akshaya Patra scheme, popular for its hygienic meals being supplied to schools by ISKCON, Parrikar said.

"I cannot set a deadline, but we will engage the Akshaya Patra suppliers in Goa. The meals supplied will be of local taste. We may set a few 100% hygienic kitchens as per the Karnataka suppliers' needs," Parrikar said.

Till the new system is implemented, the directorate of education (DoE) has registered more self-help groups, which schools can choose from to supply midday meals, he said. "The schools can choose one group from the existing ones and the new ones registered with us and can inspect their kitchens. Schools will also be able to choose a menu best-suited for its children. We are thinking of discontinuing sheera, which is not preferred by many children and moong dal ussal may be supplied instead. Pao bhajji, which is liked by most students, can be supplied more than once a week," the education minister said.

He said that DoE will issue a circular with clear cut guidelines for schools to act on in the new few days.

"After the circular is issued, schools that still do not want to take responsibility can write to us letting us know about it. We will temporarily discontinue their midday meal supply until a better system is in place. I can provide manpower to carry out inspections of the midday meal, but I cannot go and take responsibility for each and every meal if there are spiders and insects found," Parrikar said. He said that a South Goa food and drugs administration office is also being set up that will intensify its inspections of the midday meal suppliers' kitchens.

"In the Usgao case, no contamination has been found by the FDA. Doctors that treated the students said that only one child vomited and others were only under observation. The level of pathogenic bacteria increases in the air in this season and could be a reason," Parrikar said.

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