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Soyabean Jamun, Palak Paratha On Taj Menu For Maharashtra School Mid-Day Meals

PTI 06 Dec 2010, 8:58:16 IST
The Maharashtra  government has roped in the Taj group chefs to train  self-help groups to provide a more nutritious and appetising menu for school students under midday meal scheme, says a Mumbai Mirror report.
The children may soon be eating succulent soyabean jamuns, and biting into yummy palak parathas or cracking on crunchy khakras, promises Minister for Women and Child Welfare Varsha Gaikwad.

Near four lakh students across Mumbai's municipal schools  will thus get a break from the bland, insipid khichdi that is being foisted upon them in the name of mid-day meals.

For the new year, the government has roped in the Taj group of hotels, no less, to provide a more nutritious and appetising menu.

 Gaikwad promised to replicate the aanganwadi model in the municipal institutions, assuring that children will no longer have to put up with bland fare like khichdi, lapsi and chivda.

Aanganwadis are day-care centres set up by the government in slum pockets, tribal-dominated areas or areas which have a migrant population.

Such centres cater to the basic nutrition requirements of children and lactating mothers and tend to their basic healthcare. Mumbai alone has more than 5,000 such anganwadis.

A team of senior chefs from the Taj is already training the self-help groups that provide meals to anganwadis. They are being taught how to make 40 nutritious dishes that can be rustled up snappily.

At present, the pilot project is on in Nandurbar and Aurangabad districts.

“The self-help groups have been providing the same dish every alternate day. In fact, we have received several complaints about the taste and quality of the food,” said Rajesh Kumar, commissioner of Integrated Child Development Service, a central government scheme for maternal and child health. “We have, therefore, approached the Taj Group of Hotels who agreed to share their skills as part of corporate social responsibility.”

Kumar said that the self-help groups are also trained in maintaining hygiene.

“The 40 recipes chosen by the chefs are rich in protein and other nutrients, and include sprouts bhel, vegetable wraps and soyabean nuggets,” he added.

“Once the diet plan is finalised, we will get the civic body to implement it,” Gaikwad said, adding that they have issued strict instructions to self-help groups serving food to maintain hygiene standards.

Congress MLA Amin Patel said that the plan to train cooks was fine, but asked if the nutritional parameters would be maintained over time. “What is the government going to do to ensure this?” he asked.

“There are many food items that can be made with simple vegetables and with a minimum budget,” said Executive Chef of Hotel Taj President, Ananda Solomon. “These recipes are also very high on nutrition value. The hotel has taken up such initiatives in various parts of the country.”