Serve it hot

By Savvy Soumya Misra
Published: Sunday 30 November 2008

Impasse over anganwadi meals ended

now all aganwadis in India will have to serve hot, cooked meals to children and pregnant or lactating mothers within two years. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, or ccea, on October 16 told the Ministry of Women and Child Development to arrange for serving hot cooked meals, thus, putting an end to the stand-off between the ministry and food commissioners appointed by the Supreme Court in the right-to-food case.

The ministry wanted to introduce packaged, ready-to-eat food under the Integrated Child Development Services (icds). But food commissioners said supplying ready-to-eat food involving contractors would make the scheme prone to corruption (see 'Eat this', March 15, 2008).

The Prime Minister's Office, human resource development ministry, planning commission and the Expenditure Finance Committee have also opposed the proposal for ready-to-eat food.

A group of ministers will be formed to recommend measures in three months to the state governments to expedite the switchover to cooked meals. "Fifteen states are already serving hot, cooked meals and hopefully within six months, the rest of the states will make the transition," said Biraj Patnaik, principal advisor to the food commissioners

ccea also approved the implementation and the expansion of the icds scheme during the eleventh five-year plan. This will increase the total number of anganwadis to 1.4 million from the present over one million centres.

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