Mid-Day Meals project for school kids in Bihar getting successful. Bihar Schoolkids to Grow Organic Vegetables, Fruits for Their Mid-Day Meals.
The State of Bihar in India conducted a successful pilot project in 100 schools located in Purnea District, and subsequently expanded the project to cover 4,000 schools.
The focus of the pilot project was to engage students in planting organic vegetable and fruit gardens. The organic vegetables were used in preparing mid-day meals for the students in their schools.
The pilot project was started as a result of the statistics obtained from the National Family Health Survey-4, which showed that in Bihar, around 44% of children below the age of five are underweight, 15.2% of children within this age bracket are severely underweight, and 20.8% are wasted.
The pilot project sought to increase students’ awareness about the nutritional content in food, organic farming, and the importance of increasing greenery.
Within the period of the pilot project, the students successfully grew large quantities of vegetables including tomatoes, pumpkins, brinjals, nenua, green chilies, and radish.
Because of the successful outcome of the pilot project, the State Government has recently indicated that it would be funding 20,000 government-run schools (out of the 72,000 government-run schools in Bihar) to grow organic vegetables and fruits for students’ mid-day meal.
The participating schools will each be given Rs 5,000 by the government. The funds will be used to purchase seeds, saplings, and tools to grow 75 varieties of fruits and vegetables.
In an interview, the State Mid-Day Meal Deputy Director, Jeevendra Jha, referring to the organic gardening by students, stated that “It is already functional in these schools and will be expanded to 20,000 schools of the 72,000 primary and middle government-run schools in Bihar”.
The State Mid-Day Meal Director, Vinod Kumar, in an interview with Down To Earth, stated that they have started developing Poshan Vatikas (i.e. nutrition gardens), and the produce, which are mainly organic vegetables, will be used in preparing mid-day meals in schools.
The Government intends to rely on this project to provide extra-nutritional meals to students.
The Government also intends to bring in more schools into the project in the coming years.