Analyzing Mid-day Meal: India’s School Lunch System

Official Logo of Mid-day Meal Scheme

Introduction

Food is a basic need of life.  And Education is important to make the life affluent. A hungry stomach cannot grasp the teachings of Education at school, there to provide better Education, schools all around the world, offer lunch to the students. In India, the system of school lunch is referred to as Mid-day Meal. In today’s editorial, we’re going to share insights about the system of Mid-day Meal in India.

Coverage of Mid-day Meal Scheme in India

Brief Idea of What Mid-day Meal Is

The Midday Meal Scheme, launched in 1995  by former Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narsimha Rao, under the Ministry of Education, is a school meal programme in 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 million children in over 1.27 million schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, the Midday Meal Scheme is the largest of its kind in the world.

Students having Mid-day Meal at a School in India

Objectives of Mid-day Meal Scheme

  • To increase the enrolment in the schools of children who belong to disadvantaged sections of the society .
  • To increase attendance of students in Government and Government aided schools.
  • To retain the children studying in class I to VIII.
  • To give nutritional support to the children studying in the elementary level, specially in drought-prone areas.
  • To address hunger and malnutrition and increase socialization among the castes.
Mid-day Meal Scheme Timeline in India

Features of Mid-day Meal Scheme

  • It is one of the world’s largest school meal programs intended to achieve the goal of universalization of primary education.
  • For the implementation of the scheme, the Ministry of Human Resources and Development is the authorized body to implement the scheme.
  • It is a centre-sponsored scheme, so, the cost is shared between the states and the centre. Where the share of the centre is 60 percent.
  • The first state to implement the midday meal scheme was Kerala in 1984.
  • Till 2002, the scheme is designed especially for the government, government-aided and local body schools. But later on, the benefit of the mid-day meal scheme is extended to those children who were studying in educational guaranteed scheme centres or Alternative & Educational Centres.
  • In 2004, the scheme is again revised, and central assistance is offered for the cooking cost.  Apart from that, the transport subsidy included for all states, maximum of Rs 100 per quintal is provided to the special category states and Rs 75 per quintal for other states.
  • The provision of serving mid-day meals during summer vacation to the children in drought-affected areas was also added.
  • In 2006, the cooking cost was enhanced to Rs 1.80 per child/ school day for states in North Eastern Region and Rs 1.50 per child/ school day for other states and UTs.
  • In 2007, the scheme benefit is also extended to the children studying in the educationally Backwards Blocks.
  • Apart from the calories and food intake, for micronutrients (tablets and deworming medicines), each child is entitled to receive the amount provided for in the school health program of the National Rural Health Mission.
  • Meals provided under the Mid-day Meal Scheme
Food Norms under Mid-day Meal Scheme
  • The quantity of food items provided under this scheme per child per school day is as follows:
Food itemsPrimary level (Class I-V)Upper level (Class VI-VIII)
Food Grains100 gms150 gms
Pulses20 gms30 gms
Vegetables (leafy also)50 gms75 gms
Oil & fat5 gms7.5 gms
Salt & condimentsAs per needAs per need
Calories IntakePrimaryUpper Primary
Energy450 calories700 calories
Protein12 grams20 grams
Serving of Mid-day Meal

Advantages of Mid-day Meal

  • It satisfies the hunger of many children.
  • Supplying nutrition to children of the poor section helps them in concentrating on their studies better.
  • Students come to government schools daily and won’t be asked to do labour work.
  • Addresses the issue of malnutrition.
PM POSHAN SHAKTI NIRMAN

Recent Improvisation of Mid-day Meal Scheme

During the celebration of India’s 75th Independence Day as Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Cabinet approved for the implementation of PM POSHAN SHAKTI NIRMAN for next 5 years i.e. 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that school is the only place that contributes to the socio-economic development of society. Here children from various backgrounds come together for promoting the culture of unity and brotherhood. The education they receive at school prepares them to achieve their goals and lead a successful life. When we talk about government schools, here children mostly come from economically challenged backgrounds. So, even though education schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan are being implemented, the difficult financial conditions force these children to skip school and go on work. In such kind of circumstances,  the real potential of mid-day meal surfaces. Mid-day meal acts as an attractive incentive for parents to send their children to school with the sole hope that the young ones will receive at least one plate full of the meal for the day.