Mid Day Meal Scheme – A School Meal Programme in India

mid day meal scheme

Mid Day Meal Scheme: Malnutrition has always been an issue in the country. However, lack of proper nutrition among small school children is more concerning as it affects their development and overall growth. Also, many small children, especially those belonging to the poor section of the society, don’t go to school regularly and, in many cases, discontinue their education in the middle. Keeping these factors in mind, the Mid Day Meal Scheme was started back in 1995 by the Government of India

It is a school-based feeding scheme where the school students studying in the government-aided, local body, government primary and upper primary schools, Alternate Inclusive Education Centres, Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS), and Special Training Centers are provided lunches/mid-day meals on all the working days.

In this article, we will be discussing the mid-day meal scheme in detail and will cover every important detail related to it. So read the whole article carefully.

Mid Day Meal Scheme: Introduction

On 15th August 1995, under the name National Programme of Nutritional

Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE), this school meal scheme was introduced. Later in the year 2007, its name was changed to the National Programme of Mid Day Meal in Schools

The idea of mid day meal was introduced long before in the year 1995 in the southern state Tamil Nadu. The introduction of the mid day meal scheme aimed towards increasing the effectiveness of education by maintaining proper nutritional status among the students in the primary schools. As per the rules, every student in the age bracket 6-14 studying in 1-8th standard shall be provided cooked meals on all the days (excluding school holidays).

In the year 2001, the Supreme Court of India ordered the mandatory implementation of mid day meal scheme in all the government and government-aided primary schools nationwide. 

Some of the Supreme Court’s interim orders on Mid Day Meal Scheme are as follows:

  • In all the government and government-assisted primary schools, a cooked mid-day meal containing at least 8 grams of protein and 300 calories must be provided.
  • Parents or the students cannot be charged in any way against the supply of mid-day meals in any circumstances.
  • The Central Government has to provide funding for the implementation of the scheme and construction of mid-day meal kitchens.
  • While selecting workers for mid-day meals (cooks/helpers), Dalits/SC/ST shall be prioritised.
  • The mid-day meal shall also be provided during the times of summer vacations in the regions which are affected by drought.
  • Regular inspection and improvement in other quality factors shall be done.

Mid Day Meal Scheme: Objective

  1. Increasing the enrolment of students in primary schools.
  2. Increasing the attendance of students in primary school.
  3. Retaining the students between classes 1-8.
  4. Providing proper nutritional content to the students in primary schools.

Mid Day Meal Scheme: Key Facts

  1. This mid-day meal scheme is the largest school-based feeding program in the world.
  2. It contributes towards achieving the universalization of primary-level education.
  3. The Ministry of Human Resources and Development is responsible for its implementation.
  4. The conversion cost for the mid-day meal is shared by the Central and the State governments jointly. 
  5. The Central Government covers 60% cost while the State Government covers 40%. 
  6. Till 2002, government, local body, and government-aided schools were only included under the Mid Day Meal Scheme. But after that, Alternate and Innovative Education (AIE) centres, students enrolled in the Education Guarantee Scheme were also included.
  7. In 2007, around 3479 children studying in 6th-8th standard in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) were also included.
  8. Later, in 2008, Madrasas and Maktaba were also included under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.
  9. Apart from the meals, students shall also be provided with deworming medicines, micronutrient tablets, etc., as per the National Health Rural Mission.
  10. Recently, the addition of milk in the mid-day meal has been proposed by the country’s vice-president.

Mid Day Meal Scheme: Implementation

There are three different models for the implementation.

1. Centralised Model for Mid Day Meal Scheme.

Under this, the meals are prepared on-site. It is cooked by the MDMS cooks and helpers or is done with the help of self-help groups. This model is helpful in generating employment, minimising waste and makes monitoring quality tasks easier.

2. Centralised Model for Mid Day Meal Scheme

In this model, the food is not prepared on-site. Instead, cooked meals are delivered to the schools by external organisations. This model is mostly adopted in the urban areas where the numbers of schools are high, and the transportation cost is financially viable. In addition, automated processes are used in such large-scale cooking, and it improves the hygiene aspect.

3. International Assistance

Different kinds of international charity organisations and other such bodies help in making the mid-day meal available in the school under this model.

Criticism of Mid Day Meal Scheme

There are various drawbacks to this scheme. There are many cases where the quality of the food is not maintained. Proper measures are not taken while preparing the food, and even the nutritional content specified under this scheme is not present in the meal provided. At times, news about caste-based discrimination in MDMS was also reported.

According to the reports of the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, 39% of children are chronically undernourished, which again raises questions on the implementation of this scheme. Moreover, despite having many such schemes, India still ranks 94 as per the Global Hunger Index 2020.

Conclusion

So, this was all about the Mid Day Meal Scheme. The benefits of this scheme are reaching many, but still, improvement has to be made in the quality of food provided, and strict monitoring is required over the proper implementation of the scheme.

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