Bhubaneswar: With the closure of schools in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, the state government has decided to distribute dry food under mid-day meal (MDM) scheme to all students of Class I to VII through Public Distribution System (PDS).
School and Mass Education secretary Chithra Arumugam Saturday issued instructions to all the District Collectors in this connection. All schools have been shut from March 13 on account of COVID-19 to ensure social distancing and to protect the health of schoolchildren. The schools will reopen after summer vacation.
“It is equally important to augment nourishment of children during these trying times. Moreover, running MDM kitchen and giving cooked food will not be feasible and will not aid social distancing. Keeping this in view, government has decided to provide MDM dry ration (food entitlement under MDM for 90 days from March 16 to June 13 at one go through fair price shop/ PDS outlet,” Arumugam said in her letter.
As per the guidelines laid down for distribution of the ration, each primary student (Class I to V) will be given dry ration of 3 kg rice per month while each upper primary student (Class VI-VIII) will get 4.5 kg rice per month for a period of 90 days.
This rice can be collected in advance at one go by parent/guardian of the student from the fair price shop/PDS outlet tagged to the school, she said.
The rice will be provided over and above the child’s entitlement under other food security schemes.
The BEOs have been asked to prepare school-wise, class-wise enrolment list and tag the students of the school to the nearby PDS outlet for distribution of the dry ration.
After tagging, the district education officer will communicate allocation requirement PDS outlet wise, to CSO. Accordingly, the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department will arrange supply of dry ration, read the guidelines.
The entitlement will be distributed through coupon system.
“It should be ensured that the tagging should be done immediately and coupons distributed at the earliest so that parents/ guardian can collect the dry ration while lifting their normal PDS quota,” she instructed.
As a precautionary measure and in view of the recent advisories of the government, all hostels run by S&ME department will also be closed.
In exceptional cases where parents are unable to take custody of the, wards, hostels can continue to run to support the children, the government told collectors.
“Administrative relocation of children to a single hostel may be taken up as required. All children who were taken home by parents are eligible for MDM dry ration,” it added.