Midday Meal Scheme
The Mid-day Meal Scheme is a school meal programme of the Government of India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children nationwide. The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour. Serving 120,000,000 children in over 1,265,000 schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, it is the largest of its kind in the world.
|Midday Meal Scheme|
|Type of project||Government of India|
Under article 24, paragraph 2c of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party, India has committed to yielding "adequate nutritious food" for children. The programme has undergone many changes since its launch in 1995. The Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013. The legal backing to the Indian school meal programme is akin to the legal backing provided in the US through the National School Lunch Act.
Pre-independence and post-independence initiativesEdit
The roots of the programme can be traced back to the pre-independence era, when a mid day meal programme was introduced in 1925 in Madras Corporation by the British administration. A mid day meal programme was introduced in the Union Territory of Puducherry by the French administration in 1930.
Initiatives by state governments to children began with their launch of a mid day meal programme in primary schools in the 1962–63 school year. Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in introducing mid day meal programmes in India to increase the number of kids coming to school; K. Kamaraj, then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, introduced it first in Chennai and later extended it to all districts of Tamil Nadu.
During 1982, July 1 onwards, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. G. Ramachandran upgraded the existing Mid-day meal scheme in the state to 'Nutritious food scheme' keeping in the mind that 68 lakh children suffer malnutrition.
A midday meal scheme was introduced in Kerala in 1984, and was gradually expanded to include more schools and grades. By 1990–91, twelve states were funding the scheme to all or most of the students in their area: Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh. Karnataka, Orissa, and West Bengal received international aid to help with implementation of the programme, and in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan the programme was funded entirely using foreign aid.
In Karnataka, Children's LoveCastles Trust started to provide mid-day meals in 1997. A total of eight schools were adopted and a food bank programme and an Angganwasi milk Programme were started. The food-bank programme was replaced by the State Government midday meal scheme.
Initiatives by the central governmentEdit
The government of India initiated the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) on 15 August 1995. The objective of the scheme is to help improve the effectiveness of primary education by improving the nutritional status of primary school children. Initially, the scheme was implemented in 2,408 blocks of the country to provide food to students in classes one through five of government, government-aided and local body run schools. By 1997–98, the scheme had been implemented across the country. Under this programme, a cooked mid day meal with 300 calories and 12 grams of protein is provided to all children enrolled in classes one to five. In October 2007, the scheme included students in upper primary classes of six to eight in 3,479 educationally backward blocks, and the name was changed from National Programme for Nutrition Support to Primary Education to National Programme of Mid Day Meals in Schools. Though cooked food was to be provided, most states (apart from those already providing cooked food) chose to provide "dry rations" to students. "Dry rations" refers to the provision of uncooked 3 kg of wheat or rice to children with 80% attendance.
Supreme court orderEdit
In April 2001, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) initiated the public interest litigation (Civil) No. 196/2001, People's Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India & Others – popularly known as the "right to food" case. The PUCL argued that article 21 – "right to life" of the Indian constitution when read together with articles 39(a) and 47, makes the right to food a derived fundamental right which is enforceable by virtue of the constitutional remedy provided under article 32 of the constitution. The PUCL argued that excess food stocks with the Food Corporation of India should be fed to hungry citizens. This included providing mid day meals in primary schools. The scheme came into force with the supreme court order dated 28 November 2001, which requires all government and government-assisted primary schools to provide cooked midday meals.
|Order regarding||Exact text||Order dated|
|Basic entitlement||"Every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary Schools with a prepared mid day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8–12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days"||28 November 2001|
|Charges on conversion cost||"The conversion costs for a cooked meal, under no circumstances, shall be recovered from the children or their parents"||20 April 2004|
|Central assistance||"The Central Government... shall also allocate funds to meet with the conversion costs of food-grains into cooked midday meals"||20 April 2004|
|Kitchen sheds||"The Central Government shall make provisions for construction of kitchen sheds"||20 April 2004|
|Priority to Dalit cooks||"In appointment of cooks and helpers, preference shall be given to Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes"||20 April 2004|
|Quality safeguards||"Attempts shall be made for better infrastructure, improved facilities (safe drinking water etc.), closer monitoring (regular inspection etc.) and other quality safeguards as also the improvement of the contents of the meal so as to provide nutritious meal to the children of the primary schools"||20 April 2004|
|Drought areas||"In drought affected areas, midday meals shall be supplied even during summer vacations"||20 April 2004|
The nutritional guidelines for the minimum amount of food and calorie content per child per day are:
|Item||Primary (class one to five)||Upper primary (class six to eight)|
|Protein (in grams)||12||20|
|Rice / wheat (in grams)||100||150|
|Dal (in grams)||20||30|
|Vegetables (in grams)||50||75|
|Oil and fat (in grams)||5||7.5|
In the case of micronutrients (vitamin A, iron, and folate) tablets and de-worming medicines, the student is entitled to receive the amount provided for in the school health programme of the National Rural Health Mission.
The central and state governments share the cost of the Midday Meal Scheme, with the centre providing 60 percent and the states 40 percent. The central government provides grains and financing for other food. Costs for facilities, transportation, and labour is shared by the federal and state governments. The participating states contribute different amounts of money. While the eleventh five-year plan allocated ₹384.9 billion (US$5.4 billion) for the schemmnk' e, the twelfth five-year plan has allocated ₹901.55 billion (US$13 billion), a 134 percent rise. The public expenditure for the Mid Day Meal Programme has gone up from ₹73.24 billion (US$1.0 billion) in 2007–08 to ₹132.15 billion (US$1.9 billion) in 2013–14. The per day cooking cost per child at the primary level has been fixed to ₹4.13 (5.8¢ US) while at the upper primary level is ₹6.18 (8.7¢ US).
This is the most widespread practice. In the decentralised model, meals are cooked on-site by local cooks and helpers or self-help groups. This system has the advantage of being able to serve local cuisine, providing jobs in the area, and minimising waste. It also allows for better monitoring (e.g., by parents and teachers).
In the absence of adequate infrastructure (such as kitchen sheds, utensils etc.), it can lead to accidents and maintaining hygiene can be difficult. In 2004, 87 children died when the thatched roof of a classroom was ignited by sparks from a cooking fire,. In 2011, a child died after succumbing to burn injuries she sustained after accidentally falling into a cooking vessel.
In the centralised model, an external organisation cooks and delivers the meal to schools, mostly through public-private partnerships. Centralised kitchens are seen more in urban areas, where density of schools is high so that transporting food is a financially viable option. Advantages of centralised kitchens include ensuring better hygienic as large scale cooking is done through largely automated processes. Various NGOs such as the Akshaya Patra Foundation, Ekta Shakti Foundation, Naandi Foundation, and Jay Gee Humanitarian Society & People's Forum provides mid-day meals.
A study of centralised kitchens in Delhi in 2007 found that even with centralised kitchens, the quality of food needed to be improved. The study also found that when the food arrives and is of inadequate quality, even teachers feel helpless and do not know whom to complain to.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development reported that 95% of tested meal samples prepared by NGOs in Delhi did not meet nutritional standards in 2010–12. In response, the ministry withheld 50% of the payment for the deficient meals.
International voluntary and charity organisations have assisted. Church World Service has provided milk powder to Delhi and Madras Municipal Corporation; CARE has provided corn soya meal, Bulgar wheat, and vegetable oils; and UNICEF has provided high proteins foods and educational support. In 1982, 'Food for Learning' was launched with assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Initially the programme was aimed at scheduled caste and scheduled tribe girls. In 1983, the federal Department of Education prepared a scheme under the auspices of the World Food Programme to supply meals to 13.6 million scheduled caste girls and 10.09 million scheduled tribe girls in classes one to five in 15 states and three union territories. The value of the food itself was $163.27 million per year. Labour, facilities, and transportation costs were to be paid by the state governments. The reaction among the states and union territories was mixed. Many states were interested, but some were concerned about their ability to afford it if the FAO support were to be withdrawn.
Tithi Bhojan is a concept designed to ensure greater public participation under the Mid Day Meal Programme being followed in Gujarat. In order to bring in greater community participation, local communities are encouraged to celebrate important family events viz., birth of a child, success in exam, inauguration of new house, etc. by contributing to the mid day meal served in the local schools. It is voluntarily served by the community/family among school children in several forms like sweets and namkeen along with regular MDM, full meals, supplementary nutritive items like sprouted beans, contribution in kind such as cooking ware, utensils, dinner sets or glasses for drinking water. The concept has been adopted by different states with local nomenclatures like "Sampriti Bhojan" in Assam, "Dham" in Himachal Pradesh, "Sneh Bhojan" in Maharashtra, "Shalegagi Naavu Neevu" in Karnataka, "Anna Dhanam" in Puducherry, "Priti Bhoj" in Punjab and "Utsav Bhoj" in Rajasthan.
Monitoring and evaluationEdit
|Level||Committee||Frequency of meeting|
|National||The national level steering / monitoring committee
Program Approval Board (PAB)
|State||The state level steering / monitoring committee||Quarterly|
|District||The district level committee||Monthly|
|Municipal||The municipal committee||Monthly|
|Block||The Mandal level committee||Fortnightly|
|Village||Panchayat level sub-committee||Day-to-day functioning of the implementation of the scheme|
|School||School management and development committee
or Parent Teacher Association.
|Monthly and as when it is
The government of India Review Missions on Mid Day Meal Scheme, comprising members from the central government, state governments, UNICEF, and the office of the supreme court commissioner was created in 2010 to review the programme and offer suggestions for improvement. The scheme is independently monitored twice a year.
Evaluation of the schemeEdit
The MDM Scheme has many potential benefits: attracting children from disadvantaged sections (especially girls, Dalits and Adivasis) to school, improving regularity, nutritional benefits, socialisation benefits and benefits to women are some that have been highlighted.
Studies by economists show that some of these benefits have indeed been realised. The positive effect on enrollment of disadvantaged children (Dreze and Kingdon), on attendance (by Chakraborty, Jayaraman, Pande), on learning effort (by Booruah, Afridi and Somanathan), on improving nutritional inputs (Afridi), and on improving nutritional outcomes (by Singh, Dercon and Parker).
Caste based discrimination continues to occur in the serving of food, though the government seems unwilling to acknowledge this.[failed verification] Sukhdeo Thorat and Joel Lee found in their 2005 study that caste discrimination was occurring in conjunction with the Mid Day Meals programme.
Media reports also document the positive effect of the programme for women, especially working women and its popularity among parents, children and teachers alike. Media reports have also highlighted several implementation issues, including irregularity, corruption, hygiene, caste discrimination, etc. A few such incidents are listed below:
- In December 2005, Delhi police seized eight trucks laden with 2,760 sacks of rice meant for primary school children. The rice was being transported from Food Corporation of India godowns Bulandshahr district to North Delhi. The police stopped the trucks and investigators later discovered that the rice was being stolen by an NGO.
- In November 2006, the residents of Pembong village (30 km from Darjeeling) accused a group of teachers of embezzling midday meals. In a written complaint, the residents claimed that students at the primary school had not received their midday meal for the past year and a half.
- Twenty-three children died in Dharma Sati village in Saran District on 16 July 2013 after eating pesticide-contaminated mid day meals. On 31 July 2013, 55 students at a government middle school fell ill at Kalyuga village in Jamui district after their midday meal provided by an NGO. On the same day, 95 students at Chamandi primary school in Arwal district were ill after their meal.
Despite the success of the program, child hunger as a problem persists in India. According to current statistics, 42.5% of the children under 5 are underweight. Some simple health measures such as using iodised salt and getting vaccinations are uncommon in India. "India is home to the world's largest food insecure population, with more than 500 million people who are hungry", India State Hunger Index (ISHI) said. Many children don't get enough to eat, which has far-reaching implications for the performance of the country as a whole. "Its rates of child malnutrition is higher than most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa," it noted. The 2009 Global Hunger Index ranked India at 65 out of 84 countries. More than 200 million went hungry in India that year, more than any other country in the world. The report states that "improving child nutrition is of utmost urgency in most Indian states".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Midday Meal Scheme.|
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The teams did not come across any discrimination except in one school in district Boudh in Odisha.
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