Mid-day Meal Scheme
The Mid-day Meal Scheme involves provision of lunch free of cost to school-children on all working days. Its key objectives include: Protecting children from classroom hunger; Increasing school enrolment and attendance; Improved socialisation among children belonging to all castes and Addressing malnutrition, and social empowerment through provision of employment to women.
The scheme has a long history especially in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and has been expanded to all parts of India after a landmark direction by the Supreme Court of India on November 28, 2001.
With a view to enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education was launched as a centrally sponsored scheme on 15th August 1995, initially in 2408 blocks in the country. Gradually, it has been expanded to cover children at primary level in all Blocks in the country. In October 2007 the scheme was further revised to cover children in upper primary level (Classes VI to VIII) in 3479 educationally backward blocks. From 2008-09 onwards the programme covers all children studying in class I to VIII in all areas across the country.
Minimum Nutrition Provided
As per the current norms, the primary children are provided 30 gram pulses, 75 gram vegetables and 7.5 grams vegetables.
The Modi Government included a new initiative Tithi-Bhojan in the Mid-day meal scheme to encourage local community participation in the programme. This concept was first implemented in Gujarat from where the Indian Government has borrowed it to replicate across the country. It seeks to involve the members of the community in the effort to provide nutritious and healthy food to the children. The members of the community may contribute/sponsor either utensils or food on special occasions/festivals. This is completely voluntary, and the people in the community may contribute food items supplementary to the mid day already being provided like sweet, namkeen or sprouts. Greater participation and involvement of religious and charitable institutions is also being promoted
Social Audit in Mid-Day Meal Scheme
The NDA Government has also introduced the Social Audit in mid-day meal scheme with an aim to attract community participation in which people collectively monitors the planning and implementation of this scheme.
New Mid-Day Meal Rules 2015
As per the new Mid Day Meal Rules, 2015’ notified on September 2015:
- Schools can temporarily use other funds available with the school for Mid Day Meal scheme in case the school exhausts the funds allotted under this scheme for any reason.
- In case of non supply of meals for specified reasons, Food Security Allowance has to be paid to the beneficiaries.
- To check the quality of meals, monthly testing of meals on random basis by accredited labs has to take place.
The new rules have been notified to ensure regularity and quality of meals supplied.