While the controversy over Akshaya Patra refusing to serve food cooked with onion and garlic in their midday meals in schools continues, the midday meal programme for anganwadis in Bengaluru has now made news for the wrong reasons. Bugs and insects have been found breeding in pulses and rice grains kept in the godowns and anganwadi centres in North Bengaluru.
â€śLakshmannagara Centre in Okkalipura and two other centres in Yehalanka had insects in the food. We will be replacing all the food materials which are unfit for consumption. Our department will issue a notice to the MSNPC. This might have occurred due to the sudden change of weather, and some of the food was left unused as there were summer holidays in May,â€ť Meenakshi, Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) Central told TNM.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in Karnataka has now instituted a high-level inquiry into the quality of food stocked in the state governmentâ€™s Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production and Training Centres (MSNPC). Food stocked in these godowns is supplied to anganwadis.
While top officials of the department including the ministerâ€™s office remained tightlipped, the WCD Ministryâ€™s Director Arundathi Chandrashekar visited anganwadis in the city to check the quality of food supplies. Officials who did not wish to be identified confirmed that the Director has filed her inquiry report citing multiple irregularities.
â€śImmediate, firm action against the errant officials will be taken for causing this blunder,â€ť an officer in the WCD department said.
The officials tasked with making arrangements have been asked to reply by June 22 explaining the reasons how the bugs were found in the foodgrains.
â€śToday, our supervisor visited more than 70 centres and none of them had any problem with the food,â€ť Meenakshi added.
Started as part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in 1978 by the union government, anganwadis guarantee nutrition, basic healthcare and immunisation programmes for children under the age of six across India. Over the years, anganwadis had expanded to cater to other social development schemes like providing midday meals to pregnant women from economically weak backgrounds in Karnataka.
The WCD Minister Jayamala and Food & Civil Supplies Minister Zameer Ahmed Khan, could not be reached for comment.
Officials confirmed that the situation was not the same throughout the city. An ICDS supervisor on condition of anonymity said that schools in her cluster were receiving the standard quality of food.