What is indeed relevant is that school meals across the country are grossly under-resourced. Allocations for cooking costs have not been enhanced despite runaway food and fuel inflation in recent years. Many schools have not been invested with the basic infrastructure for cooking and storage, utensils, a clean eating space and potable drinking water. Cooking staff are poorly paid. For a programme as scattered as this, the most effective systems of monitoring are always those that are also decentralized. This needs social audit systems, hearing the voices of children, and effective systems of regular monitoring by parent committees, school management committees and local panchayats.

Much of this would entail additional public money, but also far greater political prioritization, administrative will and the willingness to be accountable. But we should clamour to muster both the resources and will required for this, because what can be a higher priority for public investment and attention than the health and futures of our children? Read More