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Amid COVID-19 crisis, over 90 per cent children have access to mid-day meals in Chhattisgarh: Survey


RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh emerged as the best-performing state with over 90 per cent children having access to the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) programme as beneficiaries during the Covid-19 pandemic, finds the latest survey.

Despite Centre's recent admission that many children across India were being deprived of the scheme's benefits, the survey conducted by Oxfam India, an organisation working with marginalised communities to end discrimination, had cited that in Chhattisgarh the focus was on home delivery of ration.

Whereas, in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh. as many as 92 per cent children were denied mid-day meals owing to the emphasis given on providing food security allowance, it also found.

‘Padhadyee Tunwar Dwar’ (Education at your doorstep) — the flagship programme of the Chhattisgarh government came in handy to ensure the effective delivery right from the education to dry ration distribution at the doorsteps.

Under the MDMS, door-to-door distribution of dry ration was carried out by the school education department during the lockdown period.

The dry ration packets were also given away to parents who could visit the schools. The dry ration included rice, soybeans, flour, lentils, cooking oil, salt, pickles, and fresh vegetables. 

“We reached a total of 1,658 teachers and parents in five states through phone and internet and even interviewed them personally. The ground level preparation and the active system put in place in Chhattisgarh along with active roles of officials, teachers and supported by village panchayats and civil society organisations yielded excellent results in the state,” affirmed Anand Shukla, Chhattisgarh regional manager—Oxfam India.

Principal secretary (school education) Dr Alok Shukla however stated that Chhattisgarh had merely complied with the expected norms to ascertain at least 90 per cent children get access to their mid-day meals.

“We devised a working mechanism during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis through a suitable plan and executed it with the effective support of respective district administration on distribution of ration,” Shukla added.

Besides foodgrains, Chhattisgarh government also provided additional items like soybean, cooking oil, salt from its own resources, for the meals.