A pilot program providing eggs to government school children was started in 2021, and extended to all districts in Karnataka in 2022.
A tweet which claims that the Congress government in the Indian southern state of Karnataka has introduced eggs and bananas as a part of the midday meal scheme in schools is being widely shared on social media.
This comes after the party formed the government following their big win in the recently-concluded assembly elections held in May. The post reads, “Egg and banana added to midday meal of school kids in Karnataka. It won't happen in BJP-ruled states. Congress means people's welfare. BJP thinks how to loot people. The difference (sic).”
The tweet credits the Congress government and rebukes the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for keeping eggs out of midday meals served to school-going children in the state.
However, this claim is misleading. Eggs were introduced in the midday meals in 2021 and not in 2023.
In December 2021, the BJP-led Karnataka government under Basvaraja Bommai ordered a pilot program to include eggs in midday meals in seven districts to fight malnutrition. Boiled eggs were provided with meals for students studying from Classes 1 to 8 at government and government-aided schools for 46 days. Then State Minister for Primary & Secondary Education in the Government of Karnataka BC Nagesh told India Today on December 6, 2021, that "The central government has given extra funds to see that some special protein-rich food is given to these children."
According to The News Minute, on July 20, 2022, after a study revealed that the inclusion of eggs improved nutrition levels in children, the BJP government ordered the implementation of the pilot program of giving eggs, bananas, and chikki (peanut bars) to government school children studying from classes 1 to 8 for 46 days in districts state-wide.
The report added that the government ordered schools to supply only high-quality eggs and bananas, leaving the purchasing decision to the school. The state and central government split the cost in a 60:40 ratio. The Hindu reports that eggs, bananas, and chikki were given twice a week.
According to the Department of School Education, the food was provided under the "Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman" scheme (PM Poshan scheme) - a century-old school lunch initiative called "midday meal" first created in Tamil Nadu, which was renamed in 2021.
On June 20, 2023, the Karnataka school education department ordered that eggs in midday meals only be served once a week in all public and publicly-aided schools until July 15. Logically Facts accessed the government order copy that states, "This is only a temporary measure because we are running on a notional budget. Once the full budget is presented, funds will be allocated for midday meals and the distribution of eggs will return to twice a week."
Logically Facts also contacted Vishal R, the Commissioner of Public Instruction in Bengaluru who said, "The inclusion of eggs and bananas to the midday meal of government schools started in 2021 in seven districts. In 2022, the plan was changed to two eggs per week for students of Classes 1 to 8 in all districts. Now, it has been changed to once a week for students of Classes 1 to 8." He added that the plan would be revised after the official budget for the state of Karnataka is announced.
In 2007, a coalition government, headed by HD Kumaraswamy, had planned to introduce distributing eggs to school children as part of the midday meals, but due to pressure from religious organizations, the proposal was withdrawn, Deccan Herald reported.
However, in 2021, the BJP government announced plans to implement it yet again.
The program of inclusion of eggs in midday meals for government school children was introduced in 2021 under the BJP government, and not in 2023. It is being carried forward by the Congress government. Hence, we mark this claim as misleading.