The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR), has served a notice to the Directorate of Education, after taking Suo Motu cognizance of the media report on presence of worms in mid-day meals served to the children at schools across Ponda taluka.
The GSCPCR Chairperson, Peter F Borges, said, ‘This is outrageous, sheer neglect, and shocking, especially to notice that it was already consumed by children, despite monitoring mechanisms in place. The MDM scheme has elaborate monitoring mechanism at state, district levels as well as local level to ensure quality food is served to children under the scheme.’
‘In particular, the School Management Committees (SMCs) have the responsibility to monitor the regularity and wholesomeness of the mid-day meal served to children, cleanliness in cooking and serving of the meal, timeliness in procurement of good quality ingredients, fuel, etc., on daily basis. This incident shows complete carelessness on the part of all those who are part of the monitoring mechanisms across all levels and demands serious action.’, Borges expressed.
In the notice, the Goa SCPCR cited that MDM guidelines provide for instructions to schools to procure Agmark quality and branded items for preparation of mid-day meals, tasting of meals by 2-3 adult members of the School Management Committee, including at least one teacher, before serving to children, and to put in place a system of testing of food samples by accredited laboratories.
Further, the MDM Rules, 2015, provide for mandatory testing of food samples by government-recognized laboratories, to ensure that the meals meet nutritional standards and quality.
The GSCPCR has called for an inquiry into the incident and for necessary action against those responsible as per the law. It has further called the Directorate of Education to file the status of all monitoring mechanisms at various levels in place to prevent further such incidents.