The Mid-Day Meal Scheme, a school meal program in India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide, has taken a troubling turn. What happens when the food introduced to provide nutrition to kids becomes the cause of their ill health? The very meal meant to promote the health of these schoolchildren ends up compromising their well-being.
In this quarter alone, more than 400 students have fallen ill due to mid-day meals, with reports even indicating the presence of deceased animals in some of these meals. It is evident that when children consume such meals, they are at risk of becoming unwell.
A recent incident from Bihar adds to this alarming trend. Approximately 50 schoolchildren complained of stomachaches and vomiting after consuming a mid-day meal at a primary school in Dumra Block, Sitamarhi district, Bihar, on September 12th. The children were subsequently referred to Sadar Hospital, where they received medical attention. According to Dr. Sudha Jha, the children reported finding a chameleon in the mid-day meal. However, they have all stabilized and are symptom-free after medical observation. Their parents are with them, and there is no cause for concern.
Last month, around 70 students were hospitalized after allegedly consuming a mid-day meal in a government school in southwest Delhi’s Dabri area. The Delhi government issued a show-cause notice to the mid-day meal provider, and the Delhi Police received a PCR call at Sagarpur police station reporting that around 70 boys in Class VI to VIII had experienced vomiting after consuming a mid-day meal at Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya School, Durgapark in Sagarpur. Authorities seized remnants of the food and juice for investigation.
In May, two separate incidents of students falling ill due to mid-day meals were reported by newspapers. India Today reported that 36 students fell sick after a lizard was found in the mid-day meal at a government school in Bihar’s Saran district. Another incident mentioned in Business Today involved 135 children falling ill after a snake was found in meals in Bihar, and lizards were discovered in meals in West Bengal.
A similar incident occurred in March at Savalyapuram Government High School in Andhra Pradesh, where over 23 students fell ill after consuming food served as part of the mid-day meal program.
In August, nearly 70 students from a government school in southwest Delhi’s Sagarpur area complained of pain and vomiting allegedly after consuming a mid-day meal. Thankfully, the health of all affected children has since stabilized.
This alarming situation underscores the urgent need for strict quality control and safety measures in the preparation and distribution of these meals. Ensuring the health and well-being of young students must be a top priority, and immediate steps should be taken to address the root causes of these health concerns to prevent further harm to our children.
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