Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (SP)
Mangalore, Jun 19: Workers of the government’s ambitious ‘Akshara Dasoha’ midday meal programme have resented the fact that two high schools located near the city have opted to be covered under the midday meal programme of Akshaya Patra Foundation floated International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) to manage its school meal programme.
The government high schools at Talapady Patna and Uchchila, which had earlier been getting the food prepared through the Akshara Dasoha workers, have switched to the said foundation this academic year. Akshara Dasoha Workers Association has taken up cudgels against this move. Its state president, Varalakshmi, termed the above decision of these high schools as illegal, at a time when the midday meal programme of Akshaya Patra Foundation, which is mired in controversy, is being probed by a ten-member joint house committee of the state assembly.
Varalakshmi has accused the Foundation of wrongly extending its services to new schools, even when its activities are being probed. She said that as per the union government guidelines, only NGOs can be entrusted with the work of managing the midday meal scheme. She branded the Foundation of being a religious organization that forces students to consume food sans garlic and onion. President of Mangalore taluk unit of the Association, Padmavati, says that their organization had requested the concerned department and officials not to hand over the work of providing midday meals to these schools to Akshaya Patra, as eight women stand to lose their jobs as a result.
However, Akshara Dasoha Project’s executive officer, Manjula, explained that the school development and monitoring committees of these two schools had taken a decision to entrust the scheme to Akshaya Patra. Sources said that the SDMCs decided to outsource the midday meal programme because of frequent fights between the workers engaged for cooking the food, resulting in poor quality of food. Sources in the schools also claimed that they opted for food prepared by Akshaya Patre Foundation so as to ensure that students do not drop out because of poor quality food prepared by workers.