SAVOI VEREM: Mid-day meals provided by self-help groups (SHGs) to government primary schools in Goa have invited the outrage of parents after meals provided at Keri and Savoi Verem were found infested by worms. This has raised serious concerns about child health of students consuming food of questionable quality.
Almost a day after the incident, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) suspended the licence of the mid-day meal supplier SHG after complaints of worms having been found in the meals, came to light. The Assistant District Education Inspector (ADEI) Ponda has also taken notice of the incident and recommended action through FDA. ADEI Ponda, Amisha Talaulikar informed, “After the incident came to light four other schools have contacted our office. However, there is no past complaint against this self-help group.”
Enraged parents gathered at the schools, demanding accountability from the government and action against the SHGs responsible for substandard food. "This incident is not isolated, as past meals included undercooked dishes and food with vegetable waste.
“Give high-quality meals or discontinue the scheme, we are capable of providing good meals to our kids," said a parent while speaking to the press
PTA President Shanti Gaude demanded action against the erring SHGs. “In the past also our kids were given food that was not suitable for consumption. I had warned in the past and I warn again that I won't sign and approve the meals that are being provided, if action is not taken.”
Meanwhile, the SHG in their defence said that the soya chunks that went into the meal were not procured from the regular vendor because stocks with its regular vendor had exhausted.
“We were forced to purchase it from the local shop in small quantities. Little did we know that the stock would be bad,” the SHG said.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has meanwhile said that only those Self Help Groups that will continue in service will provide quality food to students.
“In the Assembly, no one raised the issue of quality food by self-help groups. All raised the issue of money. Our commitment is to provide good food to students,” he said.