Madras High Court on Friday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to develop a contingency plan to ensure the school lunch program is not suspended in the event of a future emergency, such as the Covid outbreak -19.
Management came in a written petition stressing the need to start home delivery of nutritious cooked meals to schoolchildren due to school closures forced by Covid-19. The petition highlighted the state’s obligation under the National Food Security Act 2013 to provide nutritious meals to children. In response to the petition, the government informed the court that it would resume the midday meal program for grade 9 and 10 students from September 1, 2021.
In subsequent hearings, the government informed the court that it would reinstate the program for the remaining years when their physical classes resume on November 1, 2021. Therefore, the petitioner asked the court to order the government not to suspend the midday meal program under all circumstances in the future. Thus, the court ordered the government to prepare an action plan to ensure that vulnerable children and young adults do not go hungry in the event of a natural disaster.
In addition, the judiciary appreciated the government’s efforts to resume the midday meal system for children attending school in rural areas at a time when confinement had not been completely lifted. The court requested a progress report on the emergency plan at the next hearing.