The reluctance of pregnant and lactating women to have food in anganwadis, women in hilly areas finding it difficult to reach anganwadis, and they not opting for the white boiled rice are among the reasons for the poor response to Matru Poorna scheme in Dakshina Kannada.

The scheme was launched across the State on October 2 last year.

As part of the scheme, lactating women and pregnant women were asked to go to the nearby anganwadis to have nutritious lunch.

In a review meeting chaired by Minister for Women and Child Welfare Jaimala here on Tuesday, Deputy Director for Women and Child Welfare Department Sundara Poojary said that of the 2,488 beneficiaries, only 11 % of lactating women and 12 % pregnant women were going to anganwadi centres for lunch.

“Despite a number of campaigns, the response continues to be poor. Even if the anganwadi centre is next door, beneficiaries are not going there. Even anganwadis in the colonies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are seeing poor response,” Mr. Poojary said.

When the Minister sought to know the reason, a Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) said that the women in the region are reluctant to have food offered by the government at the anganwadis as it will hurt their self-esteem. Another officer said that women in nuclear families are largely alone or with their child in their houses. It was difficult for these women to come along with their young child to the centres during the hot afternoons and when it is raining. “Lactating and pregnant women are not sent out of the house in the afternoon in our areas,” said zilla panchayat vice-president Kasturi Panja.

The Child Development Project Officer from Belthangady said that there was distaste for the white boiled rice offered at the anganwadis. “While people here like red boiled rice, they do not take white boiled rice,” she said.

When Ms. Jaimala asked Mr. Poojary why the locally available rice was not given for women, the latter said that was the rice provided to anganwadis. It was the one supplied through fair price shops.

While asking CDPOs and other staff members to convince women of the benefits of having food at anganwadis, Ms. Jaimala said that the beneficiaries should be made known that having food in anganwadis will not in any way bring down their dignity.

“We are not in any way hurting their pride,” she said. The Minister added that she will look at providing red boiled rice and also consider supplying food to the houses of beneficiaries who find it hard to reach the anganwadis.

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