The Odisha government today pitched for bigger participation from the Centre and hike in unit cost of Mid Day Meals being provided free of cost to about 46 lakh students across the state.
"There is a need for enhancing the unit cost of Mid Day Meal and cookcum-helpers' honorarium," School and Mass Education Minister Sri Badri Narayan Patra said while inaugurating a national workshop here attended by directors and delegates of 18 states.
Patra said the cost of Mid Day Meal is shared between the Centre and the state on a 60:40 ratio. At present, the cost of a meal given to the school children is just Rs 4.58 which, according to him, is grossly inadequate in terms of nutritional quality.
Patra said the Centre's share in the ratio should go beyond 60.
He said the cost should be enhanced in order to provide nutritional food to the children in 53,000 government-run schools.
The minister also said the Mid Day Meal facility should be extended to other privately run schools like Saraswati Sishu Mandir and Vivekananda School where many children from impoverished families also study.
While seeking enhanced honorarium for the cook-cum helpers who prepare the meals, the minister said the poor children studying in classes 9 and 10 in government schools should also get the facility.
Presnetly, the children in classes 1 to 8 get the meals while others in class 9 and 10 are deprived of it.
Director (Mid-Day Meal), Government of India, HRD Ministry, Vijaya Bhaskar Guralla with six associates also participated in the workshop.
The delegates from Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Telengana, Tripura, Sikkim, Lakshadweep, Odisha, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, working in the field of nutrition and mid-day meal implementation, also attended the workshop.
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