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Oxfam condemns pathetic officialdom as 22 children die of poisoned school meal in India


Oxfam India partner made repeated criticisms about lack of money, poor quality food and lack of monitoring of free school meals program in Bihar

New Delhi, Oxfam India demands a full investigation and improvements to the government’s free school meal scheme following Tuesday’s deaths of 22 children by food poisoning.

Oxfam’s partner, the Koshish Trust, has previously criticized the current school meal program. The Trust is jointly responsible for reporting on how it is being implemented in Bihar – home state of the Saran district school where the children died and dozens more were hospitalized yesterday.

The Trust had most recently been part of a state-wide survey for the Supreme Court, which oversees the free school meals program, which found that the program was not being implemented properly because of lack of funds, poor quality food and highly inadequate monitoring of just a handful of schools once or twice a year. The Trust also criticized poor storage facilities and the lack of proper utensils and plates.

Oxfam’s Programs and Advocacy director Shaik Anwar said Bihar was not the only state that had shown little concern for improving the free school meal scheme, despite many previous warnings from official commissioners.

India’s free school meals scheme was introduced to tackle hunger and boost school attendance. The government says it reaches around 120 million children in 1.2 million schools and that it had been largely successful.


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