More can be done to improve school food

In line with the recommendation made by the parliament, the RAA conducted the performance audit with an overall objective to ascertain the economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the management of school feeding with a specific focus on nutrition covering the government funded schools for two financial periods.

The RAA had made 13 recommendations out of which two recommendations were implemented while four are underway. The recommendations include the need to develop the standard dietary requirement for school children, supply of fortified rice to schools, need for proper storage facilities for food items and the need for nutrition education in schools.

The training of school cooks and carrying out of periodic reconciliation of the stocks in school were implemented while the development of the standard dietary and the institution of mechanism to monitor nutritional status of school children and supply of fortified rice are underway.

Apart from positive developments and initiatives, the RAA observed that there was no standard dietary requirement prescribed for the schoolchildren. Without this the schools cannot ensure that the daily nutrient intakes as per the standard ration scale developed by the Ministry of Education (MoE) meet dietary need of the schoolchildren.

It was also noticed that there was lack of strong quality control system in the school feeding commodity supply chain and system of just one option menu which did not include a variety of food. It was also noticed that the food prepared in schools looked unappetizing discouraging students from eating the right portion of food.

The RAA also found the schools have poor storage facilities for perishable items leading to spoilage of vegetable resulting in wastage as well as depriving students of good diet and nutrition.

The audit was aimed to asses of the school meals are planned and prepared and to access whether proper quality assurance is in place in order to ensure quality of food items procured for school meals.

The committee however recommended that the MoE needs to develop standard school food menu using the Bhutan dietary guidelines for school children 2015 developed by the Ministry of Health.

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