When the bell rang signaling lunch break at Jangsa primary school in Samdrupjongkhar, it was not lunch boxes children were bringing yesterday. They rushed to queue for the first free lunch from the school. On the menu were rice, fish curry, egg and dal (lentils).
The Jomotshangkha drungpa, chief dzongkhag education officer and teachers served the first lunch of the school-feeding programme. Jomotshangkha drungpa, Lamdak Wangdi, said many parents send away their children to work with somebody because they face problem to feed their children at home. "This programme would help a lot of people," he said.
The school is not allowed to collect anything from the parents, but the drungpa said that it would be helpful if parents could contribute vegetables, at least.
The school feeding programmes is one of the government's pledges. Samdrup Jongkhar's chief dzongkhag education officer, Rinchen Gyeltshen, said the feeding programme was initiated to reduce absenteeism and enhance health through providing nutritious meals and also to improve whole-some quality education. He said the government would be spending Nu 140,700 annually for the 21 students of Jangsa primary school which is Nu 670 per student a month, adding that they have also allocated budget for the construction of kitchen cum store and recruited cooks.
Food Corporation of Bhutan will supply rice, salt, cheese and oil among others while school will procure the perishable commodities. Parents said walking to school early morning, carrying packed lunch was difficult for the smaller children, adding that children refuse to eat even when they manage to get packed lunch be-cause the food gets cold and smell by lunch time during summer. "We are indeed very happy and thankful to the government for providing two meals - breakfast and lunch. We would contribute organic vegetables among other for the good cause of our children in the school," said a parent, Dorji Dema. Meanwhile, the programme was started simultaneously in Rikhey primary school in Dewathang gewog and Pemathang lower secondary school in Samdrupcholing drungkhag, Samdrup Jongkhar yesterday.