Due to the covid-19 outbreak in June, the government had decided to suspend the midday meal scheme for children which has now resulted in children from economically marginalized homes having only two meals a day.
As most of the parents work during the day many children from the rural areas are forced to bear their hunger without lunch. Closure of schools is another problem due to which may children are forced into jobs to earn for feeding themselves.
Meghana, a class 7 student at Bavihalli Higher Primary School, Ballari district, said, since the lockdown, her father finds it difficult to find work and this is taking a toll on meals. He has about 10 family members to feed and stopping dry rations like rice and dal was a big blow. “Now we have only two meals a day,” she said. “We have our breakfast at around 12 noon and dinner at 9 pm or 10 pm.”
Many parents from economically marginalized homes have reported that before the suspension of the scheme they had less stress about feeding their children, But now as it has been suspended and the parents are unemployed due to the lockdown many homes have gone hungry.
Niranjan Aradhya, an education expert, said more than 55 Lakh children were fed under the scheme, of which 80% were from poor backgrounds. He said the scheme was designed after meticulous research and the meal was a big source of nutrition for children. Stopping it, he said, will stunt the growth of these children.
Many citizens also say that a delay in reopening schools and continued suspension of the scheme could result in hunger for children from rural areas.