Mid Day Meal Scheme
What is Mid day meal scheme ?
The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal program of the government of India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide.
- Improving the nutritional status of children in classes I-V in Government, Local Body and Government aided schools, and EGS and AIE centres.
- Encouraging poor children, belonging to disadvantaged sections, to attend school more regularly and help them concentrate on classroom activities.
- Providing nutritional support to children of primary stage in drought affected areas during summer vacation.
More important details of this scheme
- The program 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 SarvaShikshaAbhiyan, 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 such program in the world.
- Under article 24, paragraph 2c of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party, India has committed to providing “adequate nutritious foods” for children.
- The programme entered the planning stages in 2001 and was implemented in 2004. The programme has undergone many changes since its launch.
The Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013. The legal backing to the Indian school meal programme is similar to the legal backing provided in the US through the National School Lunch Act.
In July 2006 the scheme was further revised to provide assistance for cooking cost at the rate of :
(a) Rs.1.80 per child/school day for States in the North Eastern Region, provided the NER states contribute Rs.0.20 per child/school day,
(b) Rs.1.50 per child/school day for other States and UTs, provided that these States and UTs contribute Rs.0.50 per child/school day.
Finances on Mid day meal scheme
- The central and state governments share the cost of the Midday Meal Scheme, with the center providing 75 percent and the states 25 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$5.7 billion) for the scheme, 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$1.1 billion) in 2007–08 to ₹132.15 billion (US$2.0 billion) in 2013–14.
- The per day cooking cost per child at the primary level has been fixed to ₹3.59 (5.3¢ US) while at the upper primary level is ₹5.38 (8.0¢ US).
Monitoring Mechanism/How Mid day meal scheme is observed
- The Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development has prescribed a comprehensive and elaborate mechanism for monitoring and supervision of the Mid Day Meal Scheme. The monitoring mechanism includes the following:
Arrangements for local level monitoring
- Representatives of Gram Panchayats/Gram Sabhas, members of VECs, PTAs, SDMCs as well as Mothers’ Committees are required to monitor the (i) regularity and wholesomeness of the mid day meal served to children, (ii) cleanliness in cooking and serving of the mid day meal, (iii) timeliness in procurement of good quality ingredients, fuel, etc. (iv) implementation of varied menu, (v) social and gender equity. This is required to be done on a daily basis.
Display of Information under Right to Information Act
In order to ensure that there is transparency and accountability, all schools and centres where the programme is being implemented are required to display information. This includes information on:
- Quality of food grains received, date of receipt.
- Quantity of food grains utilized.
- Other ingredients purchased, utilized
- Number of children given mid day meal.
- Daily Menu
- Roster of Community Members involved in the programme.
Inspections by State Government Officers
Officers of the State Government/UTs belonging to the Departments of Revenue, Rural Development, Education and other related sectors, such as Women and Child Development, Food, Health are also required to inspect schools and centres where the programme is being implemented. It has been recommended that 25% of primary schools/EGS & AIE centres are visited every quarter.
Responsibility of Food Corporation of India (FCI)
The FCI is responsible for the continuous availability of adequate food grains in its Depots (and in Principal Distribution Centres in the case of North East Region). It allows lifting of food grains for any month/quarter upto one month in advance so that supply chain of food grains remains uninterrupted.
For the NP-NSPE, 2006, the FCI is mandated to issue food grains of best available quality, which will in any case be at least of Fair Average Quality (FAQ). The FCI appoints a Nodal Officer for each State to take care of various problems in supply of food grains under the MDM Programme.
The District Collector/CEO of ZilaPanchayat ensures that food grains of at least FAQ are issued by FCI after joint inspection by a team consisting of FCI and the nominee of the Collector and/or Chief Executive Officer, District Panchayat, and confirmation by them that the grain conforms to at least FAQ norms.
- The State Government/UT is also required to submit periodic returns to the Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India to provide information on: (i) coverage of children and institutions, (ii) Progress in utilisation of Central assistance, including cooking costs, transportation, construction of kitchen sheds and procurement of kitchen devices.
Monitoring by Institutions of Social Science Research
- Forty One Institutions of Social Science Research, identified for monitoring the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan, are also entrusted with the task of monitoring the Mid Day Scheme.
- States and Union Territories are required to develop a dedicated mechanism for public grievance redressal, which should be widely publicized and made easily accessible.
Extension to Upper Primary Stage
- The Finance Minister has announced in the Union Budget 2007-08 that the Mid-Day Meal Scheme will be extended to cover children in Upper Primary Classes in 3427 Educationally Backwards Blocks (EBBs) in 2007-08.
- A Budget provision of Rs.7324 crores has been made for this purpose, representing 37% increase over the budget for 2006-07.