I read with great sadness “Contaminated Lunches Kill 22 Children in India” (front page, July 18), concerning the deaths of 22 children in Bihar from contaminated school lunches. This issue particularly resonates with me because of the time I spent as a Hamilton College student researching India’s Mid Day Meal Scheme, the nationwide free lunch program, during my junior semester abroad last fall.

While reviewing the program, I spoke with students, parents and government officials about the successes and shortcomings of school lunches — and even occasionally partook in the meal with students. Given the growing success I saw that the free school lunches were having, I worry that this tragedy could become an even greater tragedy if Bihar’s deaths cause Indian parents to lose trust in nonfamilial institutions and decide that forgoing food in the afternoon is better for their children than eating this necessary meal.

With the continuing problem of child malnutrition, innovative programs like this one will be needed for India to overcome its myriad social issues.

ANDERSON TUGGLE
Clinton, N.Y., July 18, 2013