Tamil Nadu’s Government School Raises Nutritional Standards Of Noon Meals

Tamil Nadu’s Government School Raises Nutritional Standards Of Noon Meals
The Hindu

Mid-day meals go back to the 1920s in Tamil Nadu when the meal programme was introduced for children belonging to poor socio-economic backgrounds in the Madras Corporation area. Madras government at that time tried to make it a compulsory scheme in elementary education in 26 Municipal areas. In 1982, then-chief minister Puratchi Thalaivar MGR launched a scheme called Noon Meal Programme in rural areas, later extending it in urban areas.

Hence, Tamil Nadu is the pioneer of the mid-day meal scheme which was later introduced in 1995.

In spite of following a set menu of varieties of rice, sambhar, egg dishes, the children at Subbiah Memorial School in Thennur, Tamil Nadu were not getting proper nourishment due to their unliking of vegetables. Regardless of the fact that vegetables contain important nutrients and minerals, universally, they not an immediate favourite of kids and the same is the case with these students. This prompted the parents to complain to the school authorities about their children avoiding vegetables.

To alleviate this situation, the school has now decided to provide fresh salads and accompaniments with their noon meal. In order to do so they will encourage the students to bring raw vegetables from home daily. This initiative is being called ‘Atchaya Pathiram’.

Usually, the school pays for all its raw fruits and vegetables through donations and in some cases, the headmaster Mr K.S. Jeevanandhan pays for them himself. By inciting the students to bring in just one carrot or one bean pod from their home, the staff can have enough ingredients to prepare a meal for an entire week.

S. Sivakumar, District Institute of Education and Training, Kancheepuram in an interview said that this initiative will ensure that students learn the value of sharing, and are encouraged to grow as tolerant individuals who grow in a society without discrimination.

Most of these kids’ parents are daily wage labourers working long hours, and therefore, they are usually not able to provide hot meals to their children at home. The noon meal is their main source of nutrition. It is hoped that this initiative will help the children get used to the habit of eating vegetable whilst providing them with the requisite nutrition.

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