The Madras High Court on Monday wanted to know whether the Tamil Nadu government had put any alternative arrangement in place to fulfil the nutritional requirements of lakhs of school children who were missing their noon meal due to the closure of schools since March 25 following the lockdown to fight COVID-19.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha directed government counsel to obtain instructions by July 20. The judges suggested that even vitamin tablets could be distributed to boost the immunity of students. The suggestion was made on a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate R. Sudha.

In her affidavit, the lawyer said 48.57 lakh school students were provided with protein-rich food such as eggs and lentils through 43,243 noon meal centres across the State until the lockdown was clamped. Though these children were in dire need of nutrition to develop immunity, nothing appeared to have been done for them, she said.

Her counsel R. Vasudha Thiagarajan said that not only children but also adults, especially women, required nutritious intake of food to boost their immunity, and hence the government could consider providing boiled eggs as part of the meals served now at Amma Canteens that served hygienic and quality food to the poor. The litigant also sought a direction to issue nutritious meal hampers through ration shops or door delivery to all eligible families so that the basic requirements of nutrition got fulfilled.

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