More than 19,000 schools in Punjab are serving the midday meal to the students by purchasing the cooking material on credits. For more than three months in a row these schools have received no grant from the Punjab government for midday meals.
Even the payment of cooking staff post July have not been made by the government.
Short on funds, the schools in the state were forced to ask the teachers to arrange the funds or contribute from their own salary in order to keep the scheme running. Schools gave teachers reassurance that their money will be reimbursed.
According to the teachers, the shops schools have been purchasing the items on credit have given them the ultimatum and if government did not release the funds, the scheme might be discontinued.
Last time government released the grants for the midday meal in the month of May and schools did not receive any grants for the months of June, July, August and September so far.
“Although grains are provided directly to schools, vegetables, salt, pulses, oil, fuel etc. are purchased by the schools with a midday meal grant and the payments of the cooking staff are also made from the grant only,” said a Jalandhar-based government school teacher.
“We are thankful to our kirana shop (grocery shop) owners who are still providing us required things to cook, otherwise the scheme would have been closed three months back,” said one District Education Officer.