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Mid-day mayhem: Food short of standards again

In a startling revelation, the education department of North Delhi Municipal Corporation accepted that all the 36 samples of mid-day meals collected between January and June failed to meet the prescribed nutritional standards.
Of the samples that were tested, six met the prescribed protein standards but failed in calorie value, while three passed in calorie value but failed in protein value.

‘The samples were fit for consumption but could not meet the nutritional standard of protein and calorie. We have written to the Delhi government for appropriate direction to take action against the non-governmental organisations supplying mid-day meals,’said North DMC commissioner PK Gupta. Gupta accepted that the memorandum of understanding between the corporation and the NGOs authorises the department to take action.

‘There are some legal difficulties to enforce the provisions of penalties and we have written to the government for directions,’added Gupta. According to the agreement, the corporation can deduct five per cent of the money allocated for that particular day on which the sample fails to meet the minimum prescribed nutritional standards of 12 gm protein and 450 calorie energy.

Stricter penalties such as blacklisting of the NGOs are also mentioned in the agreement but have never been revoked. Out of 36 samples, 18 were drawn from meals provided by Stri Shakti followed by 10 from Surya Charitable and Welfare Society and eight from Maitri Research Foundation.
As per the agreement, Shriram Institute for Industrial Research draws five samples every month from each NGO (four from schools and one from the NGO’s kitchen). NDMC has engaged three NGOs to supply meals to over four lakh students in its 765 primary and 19 nursery schools.

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