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Fund crunch hits mid-day meal, children go hungry 

Malout: After not getting funds, a number of government schools in the Malout sub-division have stopped serving mid-day meal to students.The district administration and the education authorities are well aware of the situation for the last two weeks, but no alternative arrangements have been made. As a result, the students have either stopped coming to schools or are returning home without having food.Harry Bathla, president, Elementary Teachers’ Union, Muktsar, said, “Nearly 70 government primary schools have stopped serving mid-day meal to the students from November 6. Teachers have already spent a huge amount from their pockets, but the department gave us money for just 20 days and that too just a few days ago. Teachers of other schools in Muktsar and Gidderbaha, too, are awaiting the funds. In case they don’t get it till Monday, they are ready to stop serving mid-day meal.”He added, “The teachers never wanted to stop mid-day meal, but such a situation has arisen that teachers can’t even spend more money from their pockets.”Meanwhile, Kulwinder Singh, another activist of the teachers’ union, said, “The present situation is grim. The teachers have spent more than Rs40,000 from their salaries in senior secondary schools for the mid-day meal, but the department has given just about Rs15,000 to each school. As of now, the mid-day meal is being served in senior secondary schools, but if the funds were not released in the coming days, teachers will not be able to serve the meal to students.”Baljit Kumar, district education officer (DEO), Muktsar, said, “Some schools in Malout have stopped serving mid-day meal to the students. The department high-ups and Deputy Commissioner were informed about it. Though the mid-day meal funds were disbursed a few days ago, the amount was much less than required and for just about 20 days. Now, the meal funds of September, October and November are yet to be released in our district.”

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