Soon, School Children to Get 'Special' Midday Meal as HRD Ministry Adopts Gujarat Model
Tithi bhojan is a community participation programme that was first initiated by the Gujarat State Education Department. Under the programme, community provides full meal or additional items on special occasions like days of national importance and festivals.
Investigations revealed that the money was being directed to personal accounts instead of going to schools. (Representative Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: Children of all states and Union Territories could soon relish their favourite dish in midday meal on special occasions as the Ministry of Human Resource Development has issued guidelines to encourage 'tithi bhojan' in schools.
Tithi bhojan is a community participation programme that was first initiated by the Gujarat State Education Department. Under the programme, community provides full meal or additional items on special occasions like birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, days of national importance and other festivals.
The concept has already been adopted by Assam as sampriti bhojan, Punjab as priti bhojan, Karnataka as shalegagi naavu neevu, Maharashtra as sneh bhojan, Puducherry as anna dhanam and Haryana as beti ka janamdin. Other states and UTs like Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Chandigarh and Uttarakhand run the programme as tithi bhojan, while it has also been initiated in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The remaining places will have to implement the scheme soon, according to HRD ministry's directions.
"It has been suggested to State and UTs that these guidelines may be circulated to districts, blocks, gram panchayat, self-help groups for compliance of these guidelines under MDM," said the statement from the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The move has been initiated to bring a sense of belonging in the community. "This supplements the nutritional value of mid-day meal and encourages development of rapport with the local community. The scheme is believed to inculcate the feeling of equity among the children of all communities," the ministry said.
The guidelines issued mentions that the food should be prepared keeping in mind the food habits of the children of the region. "There should be combination of cereal. Pulse and vegetables may be provided in case of full meal," it said.
The guidelines further state that a record of category-wise items shall be maintained. "Any savings from Midday Meal (MDM) due to tithi bhojan provided by donors et cetera shall be properly recorded and accounted for in the Utilisation Certificate as unspent balance," the ministry said.
Another feature is that the donors may be honoured or given recognition by the school during SMC meetings or annual functions of the school with the community to encourage the practice.
Donation in kind may also be accepted such as water filters, water coolers, fans, etc. The concept was started in Gujarat where cash/cheque donations are not accepted. The same model may be followed by other States and UTs
There are guidelines on major food safety measures such as providing freshly prepared food items after checking expiry date in case of any packed items. The food items should contain adequate nutrients and should be palatable, hygienic, and operationally feasible.
Among other things, the guidelines state that perishable items should not be stored in plastic bags as food gets spoilt quickly due to lack of transpiration. Such items have to be stored away from sunlight, in a cool place.
The teachers, SMC members, cook-cum-helpers just before serving to the children, should taste the food article.
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