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Healthy Children, Healthy Future: Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma says the govt is providing eggs thrice a week in mid-day meals for tea garden schools

In a critical measure directed at bolstering student nutrition, the Assam Cabinet approved the weekly distribution of three eggs per child as part of the Mid-Day Meal program, in July of last year

Assam Chief Himanta Biswa Sarma on 20th February posted about the success of the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman programme under which his government is providing three eggs per week to every eligible child during school lunches in the tea gardens. He wrote, “Healthy Children, Healthy Future! We are now providing eggs thrice a week in mid-day meals for tea garden schools. Immensely satisfying to see these young children enjoying nutritious food.”

In a critical measure directed at bolstering student nutrition, the Assam Cabinet approved the weekly distribution of three eggs per child as part of the Mid-Day Meal program, in July of last year. The initiative which is part of the Prime Minister’s Poshan scheme has been tailored to help eligible pupils who attend schools in tea garden regions.

Education Minister Ranoj Pegu stated at the press conference following the Cabinet meeting that eggs, being a good source of high-quality protein will stimulate physical growth while offsetting the negative consequences of malnutrition. He remarked, “This will have a positive impact on increasing the attendance and retention of children in schools and decreasing the dropout rate.”

Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief minister of Assam, stressed the benefits of this move and predicted higher student attendance and retention statistics as well as a decline in dropout rates. He noted, “Eggs being a good source of high-quality protein will boost physical growth while countering other adverse effects of malnutrition related to cognitive development. This will have a positive impact on increasing the attendance and retention of the children in schools and decreasing the dropout rate,” while discussing the importance of the decision in September.

As a result of this step, tea garden schoolchildren receive twice as much nutritional support as other children (those who attend schools outside of tea garden areas). Furthermore, millet was included in the menu for the free meal served to all students at the state’s government-run schools. The government, headed by Himanta Biswa Sarma, also paid particular attention to constructing school facilities in the tea garden districts.

State education minister Ranoj Pegu informed, “Assam has started 3 eggs a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) under PM Poshan in 2,429 schools of tea garden areas covering 249,042 students from today. I joined the students of Amchong Tea Estate Model School near Guwahati for a midday meal,” to which the state’s chief minister responded, “Along with nutritious meals, we are undertaking a rapid augmentation of educational infrastructure in the tea garden areas. 100 schools are being constructed in the most remote corners of the State.”

“Be it providing nutritious meals or ramping up educational infrastructure in tea garden areas, my gratitude to Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi Ji & HCM Dr. @himantabiswa for ushering a new era of holistic education in Assam’s tea gardens,” in another post while reacting to Himanta Biswa Sarma.

According to sources, millets (subject to supply availability) were soon to be added to the weekly noon meals offered to all students in the state’s schools, including those in tea gardens. The previous menu has been in place for many years following the launch of the midday meal program in 2004–2005.

The source pointed out, “A team was constituted for scheduling this menu, in convergence with the health department, women and child welfare and National Health Mission (NHM) Assam has approved the new menu recently. Once Mission Director (MD) Samagra Shiksha Assam (SSA), who is also the state nodal officer for PM Poshan, gives the go ahead, the new meal schedule will be implemented,” and stressed that the new additions would be supplied from September 2023.

As per the recently introduced menu, millet was recommended once a week, and vegetables and pulses were to be offered daily. However, the most important consideration while serving millet was going to be the stock availability with the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Students from classes ‘Ka’ (nursery) to VIII were scheduled to be fed the things, which have been prepared in accordance with new criteria released by the Center.

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