Economist urges Jharkhand minister to make egg part of midday meals every day

Economist and social activist Jean Dreze urged Jharkhand finance minister to make provision for one egg every day for in midday meals of schools, anganwadi centres

Mid-day meals in schools (Representational Image: Shutterstock)Mid-day meals in schools (Representational Image: Shutterstock)

Press Trust of India | June 9, 2022 | 08:09 PM IST

RANCHI: In a bid to fight malnourishment among children and improve school attendance rate, Belgian-born economist and social activist Jean Dreze on Thursday wrote to Jharkhand finance minister Rameshwar Oraon, urging him to make provision for one egg every day for six days a week in midday meals of schools and anganwadi centres. Currently, eggs are provided twice a week in Jharkhand schools.

Dreze, in his letter, alleged that provision of eggs has been repeatedly delayed or derailed by "by ill-advised attempts to float tenders for centralised procurement" "Jharkhand's children are among the most undernourished in the world. In addition, we are in the middle of a severe crisis of low-school attendance rates. Including eggs in midday meals every day would also help to ensure regular attendance of children at schools and anganwadis," he said.

Also Read | ‘No fruit or milk’: Food inflation making mid-day meals lighter, less nutritious

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 data, about 27 per cent children below five years of age are stunted and 30 per cent underweight. More than 65 per cent of children between six to 59 months are anaemic. "Eggs are an excellent source of protein for growing children, and they also contain essential nutrients. The nutritional benefits of eggs are well-established. Eggs are also tasty, affordable and safe," Dreze, now an Indian citizen, said.

Many other states, including Odisha, provide eggs in midday meals on a regular basis, he noted. “The government of Jharkhand has already promised to provide eggs in midday meals on a daily basis. The time to redeem this promise is long overdue. The cost will be very modest, and the benefits will be immense --not just for children but for the entire state," he added in the letter.

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