A private school in Hyderabad has come under immense criticism after it issued a new diktat banning students from bringing a wide variety of food options, from rice and eggs to non-vegetarian food.
The order by Maheshwari Vidyalaya says that children will not be allowed to bring eggs, noodles, rice, non-vegetarian food, and curries made with onion and garlic. The school has threatened to expel any students if parents raise objections.
Out of fear for their wards, several parents approached the Hyderabad-based child rights group Balala Hakkula Sangham and tipped them off anonymously. The issue was brought to light by The NewsMinute (TNM), who have managed to obtain an audio clip of a meeting between the school management and the NGO.
In the clip, school administrator Mounika is heard saying that rice and noodles make mothers "lazy", and since they often pack the previous day's food, children tend to fall sick. She also said that non-vegetarian food was being banned since children might end up eating from their peer's lunch boxes without realising the presence of meat, and it will hurt the sentiments of their religion or community.
When the school was contacted by TNM, they denied all the allegations, saying it had only advised parents on healthy food options. Mounika also added that so far, the school was yet to receive any complaints from parents.
She went on to defend the school's ban on non-vegetarian food, saying that no school allows non-vegetarian on campus. She said meat "will spoil the environment of the school" and hence wanted children to eat non-veg food only at home.
Despite being a mandatory part of the mid-day meal scheme by the government, the school has also banned any egg items, saying that it was justified since it was a 'Maheshwari community' school. Parents have alleged that several students have been punished over suspicion of consuming non-veg food inside the school.