New Guidelines Issued for Mid-Day Meals in Punjab Govt Schools to Promote Healthier Cooking

Rozana Spokesman

News, Punjab

Education Dept's Initiative Aims to Ensure Safe Nutrition and Reduce Aluminum Utensil Usage for Children

Mid-Day Meals

CHANDIGARH: The Education Department of Punjab has recently issued a set of comprehensive guidelines concerning the mid-day meal program in government schools across the state. In response to the recent heavy rains and subsequent flooding, several schools in various regions reported instances of food grains being spoiled due to the impact of floodwater or rainwater drainage. The new directives emphasize the active involvement of school heads and management committees in addressing the situation and taking steps to ensure the well-being of the students.

-- Checking Grain Quality and Record-Keeping:
As per the guidelines, the school head will be responsible for inspecting the quality of food grains received for the mid-day meal program. If any grains are found to be unusable, the school head is required to immediately report this to the school management committee. A collaborative effort will be made with the committee members to accurately document the quantity of spoiled food grains present.

-- Healthier Cooking Practices:
Additionally, the Education Department has instructed schools to minimize the use of aluminum utensils while preparing mid-day meals. Citing the harmful effects of aluminum on health, the ministry has highlighted the potential risks of long-term exposure to this metal, including conditions such as anemia, mental retardation, and osteomalacia. To safeguard the well-being of the children, the department urges schools to avoid cooking in uncoated aluminum utensils. It further encourages schools to promote awareness and eliminate the use of such utensils entirely in the future.

-- Emphasis on Record-Keeping and Accountability:
To ensure transparency and compliance, the school head will be required to maintain a detailed record of the spoiled grains, which will be shared with the block officer. Subsequently, the block officer will forward this record to the District Education Officer (Elementary). The department has introduced a performance review mechanism to monitor the implementation of these guidelines effectively. School heads are urged to promptly fill and submit the performance report to ensure adherence to the prescribed protocols. In case of failure to notify the situation in writing, the school head may be held accountable for any lapses.

-- Warning of Consequences for Negligence:
The Education Department has made it explicit that any negligence in following the guidelines will not be tolerated, and appropriate action will be taken against the concerned officers. This measure is aimed at ensuring that all levels of authority uphold their responsibilities diligently to provide a safe and healthy mid-day meal experience for the students.

With these progressive measures, the Education Department of Punjab aims to improve the quality and safety of mid-day meals while also fostering healthier cooking practices in schools. The focus on accountability and transparency in the management of food grains seeks to create an environment where children receive nutritious meals without compromising their health.