SHGs to continue to serve mid-day meals this year

THE GOAN NETWORK | MAY 19, 2024, 12:07 AM IST


Ahead of the new academic year, the Goa government has decided to continue with 98 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and nine Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) currently supplying meals to 1.60 lakh students across the State. This decision comes amidst the entry of Bengaluru-based Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Government sources indicated that they are not inclined to terminate the contracts of the local SHGs unless these groups choose to discontinue their services. 

In August 2023, the Directorate of Education renewed a one-year contract with these SHGs and PTAs while also finalising Akshaya Patra to commence supplying mid-day meals to around 5,000 students on a trial basis from 2024-25, provided they obtain all required permissions, including a license from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

“We are not discontinuing the SHGs unless they opt out of the ongoing scheme. They requested an increase in rates, which was granted along with other requirements they sought. However, Akshaya Patra will simultaneously provide services, if they comply with the mandatory requirements,” the source revealed to The Goan.

Although the contract was signed two months ago, the Foundation is yet to respond to the requirements of the Education Department such as setting up a centralized facility including a kitchen, and obtaining health clearances among others. Meanwhile, two schools have already unofficially conveyed to the department that they will take mid-day meals from the Foundation starting in the coming academic year.

Sources said the Foundation will have to obtain an FDA license for the supply of meals to students along with NOC from the Health Department, which will be provided after an inspection of the premises. Once they obtain these permissions, the Foundation will have to approach the Education Department, who will then inspect the facility and other infrastructure, before giving the go-ahead.

The Foundation is said to have been selected as an alternative to SHGs in case of emergencies and will be paid in line with SHGs and PTAs -- Rs 8 per student per day for 100gms of the meal at the pre-primary (government and government-aided schools) and primary level, and Rs 10 per student per day for 150gms of the meal for upper primary school students.

The meal menu is also fixed which does not include refined flour or maida. Mixed vegetable idlis and mixed vegetable pulao, chole chapati, vegetarian korma and potato bhaji are served.

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