Chappatis fall flat, become ‘option’ in midday meals

Panaji: It appears that self-help groups (SHGs) finally have their way. The education department on Thursday gave the SHGs an option of serving either bread or chappati. It revoked its condition to compulsorily serve chappatis, three days a week as part of the midday meal after discussions.

Since addition of chappatis to the midday meal menu less than a month ago, SHGs had been at loggerheads with education department and demanded that chappatis be dropped from the menu.

Education director Gajanan Bhat told TOI that the department had changed its earlier decision. The SHGs will now either serve bread or chappatis. The SHGs were not happy with the rate fixed for chappatis and sought a rupee more paid per item. The SHGs are paid 5.80 per item at mid-level schools.

A source said that in Goa SHGs call the shots for they have the politicians’ support. They keep complaining about being paid less even as they are paid more than what is paid for midday meals in other states.

Some states like Gujarat serve chappatis and the menu of other states is also diverse. Compared to other states, the rate paid for midday meal in Goa is high, the source said.

Sources also said that SHGs wanted chappatis dropped as it entailed more work hours and claimed that it was not economical to serve it at the rate fixed by the department. They also wanted the portion of ‘bhaji’ served to be reduced, but the education department has not given in to their demand for now.

Even though the education department has given the SHGs an option to serve chappati, most will stick to bread. Students – mostly in urban area schools of the state – don’t eat the midday meal due to its quality. Many students have also said that the quality of bread served at many schools is not good.