Akshaya Patra conducts training on food safety, quality and personal hygiene in Bihar

For images of this event, click here.

Proudly holding a certificate of participation awarded by the Government of Bihar and The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Divya Devi, a cook-cum-helper at the Government Primary School Fatehpur Dakshini, Vaishali District, Bihar, says, "I was aware of some of the hygiene and safety practices, but I learnt some more today. For instance, I didn't know we had to remove our bangles and finger rings while cooking. The training programme taught us lessons that we will not forget."

On an invitation from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India, and the Government of Bihar, The Akshaya Patra Foundation organised a series of three one-day workshops on food safety, quality and personal hygiene in Patna, Bihar, from 29 to 31 August, 2013. The training programme took place in Government Middle School Kumhara, Patna, for cooks-cum-helpers from three districts namely Vaishali, Saran and Nalanda and for Block Resource Persons (BRPs), District Resource Persons (DRPs) and District Coordinators (DCs) from over 25 districts. The training witnessed a total participation from about 160 people.

With the MDMS currently reaching out to over 12 crore children across the country, a need to train the cook-cum-helper community to adopt safe practices was imperative. Ministry of Human Resource Development, together with the state governments has collaborated with voluntary organisations to begin implementing a series of training programmes. Akshaya Patra was recognised as one of the organisations to develop and implement a few of the training programmes.

Identified as a pilot programme, this training programme on food safety, quality and personal hygiene was developed by Akshaya Patra. The training methodology was participative. The hands-on sessions demonstrated the importance of food safety at all stages of the cycle of cooking and delivery. Special care was taken to ensure that all material used for the training would be familiar and non-threatening for the participants, for instance, Warli paintings, community-friendly characters for other illustrations etc. Akshaya Patra developed a specially designed handbook for the training programme, it contained pictorial descriptions on food safety, quality and hygiene practices of utmost importance to the MDM cook-cum-helpers.

The participants of the workshop were addressed by Mr Amarjeet Sinha - Principal Secretary, Education, Government of Bihar; Mr R Lakshmanan - Director, Mid Day Meal Scheme, Bihar; Mr Kamlesh Jha - Deputy Director, Mid Day Meal Scheme, Bihar. 

In a letter to the MHRD, R Lakshmanan, stated, "The training method was interactive and participative. Participants were very responsive ensuring achievement of some impact and behavioural change among the trainees. The Principal Secretary - Education Department, and myself attended the training programme and found it to be simple and useful."

Akshaya Patra will also conduct similar trainings in Jharkhand and Odisha.

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