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Friday, 22 February 2013 13:24

ZEP Schools – Hot meals project suspended

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The distribution of free hot meals to all pupils of Zone d’Education Prioritaire (ZEP) schools in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Agalega has been temporarily suspended. Instead, the pupils are getting bread, butter, cheese, a fruit and  half a litre of water for lunch.
The decision of giving free hot meals to the 30 ZEP schools of the Republic was announced in last year’s budget and implemented this year on January 14. However, following the intoxication of 112 pupils at Bamboius ‘A’ G.S on February 6, officers of the Ministry of Health have carried out a strict analysis of the food served. Since the presence of E.Coli was found some foods and that too above the acceptable quantity, the Ministry of Education has deemed it wise to stop the distribution of hot meals until further notice.

Meanwhile, the pupils will be given bread, butter, cheese, a fruit and half a litre of water for lunch instead. The same caterers chosen for the distribution of hot meals are providing the lunch to the pupils though they are not too agreeable to the decision.
“I have invested more than Rs 1.2 million in refurnishing the kitchen for the preparation of the hot meals. One hot meal costs Rs 75 per child per day while now the Government will be spending Rs 35 per child per day,” deplores Naucshad Chukoury, manager of Banquet de l’Ocean and caterer for three ZEP schools. He adds that bread, butter and cheese are not proper meal for a child.

On the other hand, Neeta Ramdin, nutritionist in the private, says that the food being given is a complete meal. “While giving food to children, we should consider the nutritional value and ensure that the food is not contaminated. The bread and butter gives energy, the cheese gives proteins and the fruit provides the vitamins,” she says.

Premita Leelachand

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