On Friday, the HRD Ministry asked state governments to begin providing hot cooked mid-day meals or a food security allowance to all students in Classes I-VIII till schools remain closed to contain the spread of COVID-19.(File/Representational Image)
As the capital gears up for the possibility of schools remaining shut beyond March 31, options being considered for substituting mid-day meals in Delhi government schools are Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs) and compensatory meals later in the year.
On Friday, the HRD Ministry asked state governments to begin providing hot cooked mid-day meals or a food security allowance to all students in Classes I-VIII till schools remain closed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Delhi government has not yet announced or implemented a way to supply meals to students since schools closed on March 12, as this was an exam and post-exam break period.
One of the two options being considered is to provide the expenditure on each meal to the accounts of beneficiaries in the form of DBTs. “When these meals are produced on a mass scale, preparation cost per beneficiary is very low. This will result in a very small amount being transferred to the accounts, which will translate to very little in terms of nutrition. The other option being considered is providing meals lost in the closure period during the summer break. But this does not solve our immediate problem of getting nutrition to children at the time,” said a government official.
The official said the option of supplying food to schools and asking a family member to collect it was discussed but later dropped, as it might lead to crowds at schools. The home delivery option is also being approached with some caution. “Many workers will have to be roped in across the city. With all of them going door-to-door, monitoring hygiene protocol will be very difficult,” said an official.