Thousands of mid-day meal workers protested in Vijayawada district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday 22nd July. They were demanding wages of Rs.8000 per month and early payment of pending salaries. The workers, mostly women, have suffered because of delay in payments, being forced to procure groceries on credit and even with personal loans.
Other demands include rescinding of the mid-day meal contract with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, enhancement of government spending on each child’s meal and clearing pending bills of self-help groups. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is run by the International Society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) trust and the Jagmohan Reddy government has allotted Rs 100 crore to the NGO for construction of centralised kitchens to supply food for the meal scheme.
The protesting mid-day meal workers fear loss of livelihood by such centralisation of kitchens. They also expressed concerns about the freshness of the food as the kitchens are far from the schools. This scheme is a major source of employment for women in the rural areas.