Mumbai: BMC passes the buck on severe malnutrition of schoolchildren

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has solely blamed the state government and parents for the rising number of cases of malnutrition among students in civic schools. The civic authority claimed that it is not to be blamed as it caters to students for only six hours on a daily basis and provides good facilities in that period of time.

“The students are provided with mid-day meals which include food preparations like poha, sheera, upma and other food items,” Shubhada Gudekar, chairman of the education committee of the BMC told Free Press Journal. While, a recent survey done by Praja Foundation revealed that one out of every third child studying in the civic-run schools is malnourished. The percentage of malnutrition has increased from 8 per cent to 34 per cent in the last three years.

The BMC stated that it provides the best quality food to students during the school hours but has no control over the students once the school hours are over. Gudekar said, “We take care of the children only for six to seven hours and give them best quality food in those hours. It is the responsibility of the parents and the state government to give them healthy food during the remaining 18 hours of the day.”

The municipal corporators suggest that the food provided by the corporation is insufficient and lacks in quality. Aneesh Makwaaney, a corporator, said, “The increasing percentage of malnutrition shows some loopholes in the system. We should give some food to the children when they leave from school that they can eat on their way home or may be when they reach home.”

The civic body revealed that a student of Class I to IV needs 450 calories while a student of V to VIII needs 700 calories in six hours to stay healthy. A senior civic official said, “If we provide excess food will the student be able to digest or manage this extra intake of calorie? While some students are from poor financial backgrounds who do not get sufficient food at home which affects their health.”

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