Mid-day meals to be tested by labs each month

New Delhi, Oct 1 (IANS) Mid-day meals provided to students at schools will be tested each month by accredited laboratories to ensure nutritional standards and quality, an official release here said on Thursday.

The hot-cooked meal provided to children shall be evaluated and certified by the government food research laboratories or any laboratory accredited or recognised by law, the rules notified by the central government said.

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The rules make it mandatory for schools to dig into funds meant for other purposes if the funds meant for providing mid-day meals to students are exhausted for some reason, an official statement here said on Thursday.

The central government said that schools are required to provide an allowance to students if meals cannot be given them.

These measures are part of a host of rules on mid-day meals notified by the central government on Wednesday under the Mid-day Meal Rules, 2015.

Mid-day meals are provided as a part of the National Food Security Act, 2013.

The rules were notified by the union human resource development ministry in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 act after consultation with states and other related central ministries.

Further, the rules also provide that concerned state governments shall fix responsibility on the person or agency if meals are not provided on three consecutive school days or five days in a month.

Besides, the rules also demand that every child within the age group of six to 14 years studying in Classes 1 to 8, enrolled with and attending school, shall be provided hot-cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary classes free of charge every day except on school holidays.

The mid-day meals shall be served to the children only in the school.

The schools will also have to ensure meals are cooked in a hygienic manner. Schools in urban area may use the facility of centralised kitchens wherever required in accordance with the guidelines issued by the central government and the meal shall be served to children at respective school only, the rules notified said.

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