Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme was launched in India on August 15, 1995, as the ‘National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE).’ In October 2007, it was renamed the “National Programme of Mid-Day Meal in Schools,” commonly known as the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme. It is the world’s largest school meal programme aimed to attain the goal of universalization of primary education. Under the MDM plan, one meal is supplied to all students enrolled in government schools, local body schools, government-aided schools, special training centers (STC), maktabs, and madrasas funded by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Cooked lunches are served to every child aged six to fourteen who is enrolled in and attending school. Meals are served to pupils in Classes I through VIII.

Key Points:

(A) Needs –

According to research, a healthy breakfast in the morning hours can be productive for the study of cognitively more demanding subjects, and so these hours can be maximised by offering a simple yet stimulating breakfast in addition to midday meals.

(B) Challenges –

Severe financing The scheme is likely to be pushed back due to the crunch.
The present spending on the Midday Meals Scheme by the Centre is around Rs. 11000 crore. Free breakfast will require an additional budget of 4000 crore, while the School Education Department has seen a budget decrease of over 5000 crore for the fiscal year 2020-21.

Objectives Of Mid-Day Meal Scheme:-

  1. To increase the number of students enrolled in schools who come from underprivileged backgrounds.
  2. To increase the number of pupils enrolled in government and government-aided schools.
  3. To keep the children in grades I through VIII.
  4. To provide nutritional assistance to primary school-aged children, particularly in drought-stricken areas.
  5. To combat starvation and malnutrition while also improving caste socialization.

Features Of Mid-Day Meal Scheme:-

  1. Every school should have a sanitary cooking infrastructure for sanitary mid-day meals.
  2. Mid-day lunches are only to be offered on school grounds on all school working days.
  3. The headmaster or headmistress has the authority to use school money due to the depletion of the mid-day food fund. However, the money will be returned to the mid-day food fund as soon as the school receives it.
  4. AGMARK-certified products are purchased for use in the preparation of mid-day meals in schools.
  5. The school administration committee’s cooked meals are tasted by two or three adult members.
  6. The State Food and Drug Administration might collect samples to ensure the quality and nutritional content of the meals.
  7. The State Steering-cum Monitoring Committee (SSMC) will oversee the scheme’s execution, including the establishment of a system to ensure the meals’ quality and nutritional criteria.
  8. When prepared meals cannot be delivered due to unforeseen circumstances, the following food allowance is given to the children:

(a) Quantity of food grains based on a child’s entitlement, and

(b) The cost of cooking in the individual state.

Issues and Challenges:

  1. Corrupt Practices: There have been reports of simple chapatis being given with salt, water being mixed into milk, food poisoning, and so forth.
  2. Caste Bias and Discrimination: Because food is essential to the social system, many schools require pupils to sit separately based on their caste position.
  3. Covid-19: Covid-19 has created significant risks to children’s health and nutritional rights. Access to critical services, such as Mid-Day Meals, has been hampered as a result of the national lockdown.
  4. Malnutrition is a threat: According to the National Family Health Survey-5, some states have reversed direction and recorded rising levels of child malnutrition.
  5. Global Nutrition Report-2020: According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, India is one of 88 nations that are on track to fall short of global nutrition objectives by 2025.
  6. 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI): The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020 ranks India 94th out of 107 nations. India has a “severe” degree of hunger.