In an effort to combat childhood malnutrition and increase school attendance, Belgian-born economist and social activist Jean Dreze wrote to Jharkhand finance minister Rameshwar Oraon on Thursday, pushing him to include one egg in the noon meals of schools and anganwadi centres six days a week. In Jharkhand, eggs are currently supplied twice a week in schools.
Mr Dreze said in his letter that “ill-advised attempts to launch tenders for centralised procurement” have regularly delayed or derailed egg supply.
Jharkhand’s children are among the world’s most malnourished. Furthermore, we are in the midst of a terrible low-school attendance issue. “Including eggs in midday meals every day will also help to ensure that youngsters attend school and anganwadis on a regular basis,” he said.
According to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5, about 27% of children under the age of five are stunted, and 30% are underweight. Anemia affects more than 65% of children aged six to 59 months.
“Eggs are a fantastic source of protein for developing youngsters, as well as necessary nutrients; the nutritional benefits of eggs are well-established; and eggs are also tasty, economical, and safe,” said Mr Dreze, who is now an Indian citizen. He pointed out that many other states, like Odisha, include eggs in their noon meals on a regular basis.
“The Jharkhand administration has already pledged to include eggs in everyday noon meals. The moment has come to fulfil this commitment. The cost will be low, and the rewards will be enormous, not just for children but for the entire state,” he wrote.