With schools remaining shut due to the lockdown, ‘Ennangalin Sangamam’, a non-governmental organisation, has stepped in to provide noon meal to children from the Irula community.
According to J. Prabhakar, founder of Ennangalin Sangamam, a number of children from the Irula community had been hungry and not eaten properly as their parents were jobless due to the lockdown.
“We initially planned to provide noon meal to 600 Irula children from 20 villages in Cuddalore district on July 15, the birth anniversary of former Chief Minister Kamaraj, who started the scheme. The programme has been extended thanks to voluntary contributions from various NGOs and philanthropists,” says Mr. Prabhakar.
The NGO started the ‘A meal a day for a kid’ project on July 15 by distributing food grains and provisions to teachers to ensure noon meal for the children daily.
The food is cooked by the teachers and distributed in centres located close to the schools.
“All the 600 children are registered with the Mahatma Gandhi Community Service Centres (MGCSC) set up by the NGO in the district. The main objective of these centres is to ensure that children do not drop out of school,” he said.
Staff at the MGCSC take measures to prevent drop-outs and also help the tribals in getting community certificates, said A. Ramesh, coordinator of the project and director of Manidha Nalam Membattu Arakattalai.
As many as 20 food centres are functioning across the district where tribal children are being fed noon meal daily.
The project is now being rolled out with the help of voluntary organisations and costs an estimated ₹15,000 per day, says Mr. Prabhakar.