Midday meals extended to special schools in TN, 8,000 students to benefit

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has extended the midday meal scheme to 193 special schools run by NGOs (with government support), starting from June. This move is expected to benefit more than 8,000 disabled children across the state.

In a letter to the social welfare department, M Lakshmi, the director for welfare of differently abled persons, stated that the number of day scholars in each special school will be mapped along with the nearest government school for providing midday meals.

District officials will ensure that supplies for preparing the meals are procured based on this revised list. The differently abled welfare department will cover expenses for procuring necessary items such as plates, tumblers, and hotboxes, as well as transportation charges for the food, Lakshmi noted.

Additionally, 2,485 infants — under the age of one — in early intervention centres will receive nutrition mix, midday meals with three eggs per week, and 60g of fortified biscuits every day, under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) through nearby ICDS centres, Lakshmi stated.

In a G.O. issued in December 2023, the department approved expenditure of Rs 15.36 lakh for expansion of the scheme and Rs 9 lakh for implementing the scheme for four months during the FY 2023-24. However, the scheme is set to be implemented only from June.

“We have been calling for this expansion for nearly 15 years now. Our stand is that all schemes that are implemented in government schools should be extended to special schools as well. Since the special schools are mostly run by NGOs with government support, they come under the differently abled welfare department and got left out. Next, the breakfast scheme should also be extended to special schools,” said S Namburajan, state vice-president of the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC).

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