Free nutritious lunch in schools from next fiscal year

The Prime Minister had earlier said that the pledge for free nutritious lunch in schools within 120 days had intentionally been labeled as achieved, although it is actually not implemented in schools, since a lot of effort has been in it and it had been approved by the cabinet after discussing the issue at length.

However, the actual implementation according to the education and the agriculture ministers is expected to begin from next fiscal year. “This isn’t something which can be implemented in one or two months,” said the agriculture minister Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, adding that the implementation needs strategic review where the education, agriculture, health, and labour ministry are closely working together in preparing a strategic plan to provide nutritious lunch to schools as well as to the hospitals.

The government has also decided to handover the approved revised stipend to the agriculture ministry instead of the education ministry this time for the agriculture ministry to produce and distribute nutritious diet to the students.

“For that, we would like to make a corporative approach in producing the nutritious food resources which will also address the youth unemployment in the end which we are having challenges,” said Lyonpo Yeshey.

He said the strategic plan is expected to get ready by the end of this month and accordingly mobilization will have to take place. “As of now, I can say that on this nutritious food feeding to the schools and hospitals, we would like to take it to step by step”.

“While internalizing the resources within the four ministries, we will also look for external support for this and will start implementing this nutritious food supply from next fiscal year,” he added the process would be taken step by step not with all the listed items.

“By identifying a minimum of five food items that we can supply and that we can take up with one school in each Gewog, we can then slowly escalate this program to reach all the schools and target hospitals as well.”

He said by the third year, 2021, the implementation is expected to supply at least basic nutritious food items to all the schools and the hospitals.

PM during the press meet last month also said the education ministry has proposed the cabinet to increase the stipend and implement-feeding program in all rural schools which he said is approved in principle.

To that, the education minister JB Rai said the resources will be internalized first but will only be for the purpose of providing nutrition.

“While our target is to start from next fiscal year, we will probably come out with the reliable calculated amount but definitely the stipend will be increased”. He said the ministry is waiting for the calculated amount.

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