Mid Day Meal for Schoolchildren
India’s Mid-day Meal Scheme was designed to provide schoolchildren with lunch for free. The program aims to prevent classroom hunger and increase school attendance. It helps to address child malnutrition and provides employment for women. The program unfortunately is fraught with many problems. Food rations are often of poor quality and are supplied irregularly. Many schools lack kitchens and utensils, so cannot prepare the meals. In some cases, fraud takes place and school administration takes the food rations for their own benefit.
In the village of Papda in Mewat, Haryana, the local middle school struggled to provide mid-day meals. Villagers raised the issue with local authorities, but received no response. Several villagers took part in Sehgal Foundation’s “Good Rural Governance” program. The Good Governance program teaches villages about the local government system. They learn what programs should be available, and how to seek solutions when they aren’t. It also trains Village Governance Guides to look for these problems.
Papda’s local Governance Guides looked into the matter further. They found that the middle school had failed to provide its 528 students with mid-day meals for 6 months. They also found that the local Anganwadi (day care center) was serving low-quality food rations. The Governance Guides made a formal complaint with local authorities about the lack of school lunches. After no reply, they filed a complaint with the Department of Education for the state of Haryana. The state administration began investigating the matter with local officials. They held a meeting with education officials and school authorities to assess how they could resolve the problem.
Thanks to the Governance Guides and state officials, the middle school is serving the mid-day meal again. The Director of Elementary Education for Haryana said, “An enquiry has been ordered into the case. The enquiry committee will share their findings within 15 days and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty.”
Sehgal Foundation is empowering people around Mewat to make positive changes in their communities. This story shows that empowered citizens can solve issues of local governance. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
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