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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 03 October, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Midday Meal Scheme

Midday Meal Scheme

  • The Ministry of Finance has approved an increase in the cost of cooking for each child participating in the Mid-Day Meal Program by 9.6%.
  • Cooking expenses per kid have been Rs 4.97 in primary classes (class I–V) and Rs 7.45 in upper primary schools (class VI-VIII) since the recent increase in early 2020.
  • The allocation at the primary level and higher primary levels will be Rs 5.45 and Rs 8.17, respectively after the increases take effect.

What is the Midday Meal Program?

  • Launched in 1995, the Ministry of Education's Midday Meal Program is a centrally funded initiative.
  • It is the largest school food program in the world and is intended to help primary education become universal.
  • Provides hot lunches to every student in classes I through VIII who is enrolled in the school and is between the ages of six and fourteen.
  • It was renamed the "Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman" scheme (PM Poshan Scheme) in 2021 and now includes pupils in pre-primary classrooms who are balvatikas (children between the ages of 3-5).
  • Goals: Reduce hunger and malnutrition, boost school enrollment and attendance, enhance caste socialisation, and give women, in particular, access to jobs at the local level.
  • Two or three adult members of the school administration committee taste meals to ensure they are of AGMARK standard.
  • Food Security Payment : The State Government shall provide food security payment by the 15th of the subsequent month if the Mid-Day Meal is not supplied at school on any school day due to the non-availability of food grains or for any other reason.
  • Regulation: The State Steering-cum Monitoring Committee (SSMC) is in charge of overseeing the scheme's execution, including the creation of a system for maintaining meal quality and nutritional criteria.
  • Cooked meals must meet dietary guidelines of 450 calories and 12 grammes of protein for students in grades I through V, and 700 calories and 20 grammes of protein for students in upper primary (VI-VIII class)

Coverage:

  • The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan supports all government-run and government-aided schools, Madarsas, and Maqtabs (SSA).
  • According to the National Food Security Act of 2013, the programme includes 11.80 crore children in Classes 1 through 8 (between the ages of 6 and 14) who attend 11.20 lakh government and government-aided schools as well as those administered by local organisations like the municipal corporations in Delhi (NFSA).
  • The Center has set out Rs. 10,233 crore for the programme in the Budget for 2022–2023; states are anticipated to invest Rs. 6,277 crore.

What are the problems and difficulties?

Corrupt Behaviors & Quality issue

  • There have been incidents where ordinary chapatis were supplied with salt, milk was contaminated with water, food poisoning occurred, etc.
  • Children are often forced to sit apart in classrooms based on their caste position because food is a key component of the caste system.

Covid-19:

  • Covid-19 has posed significant risks to children's rights to nutrition and good health.
  • Mid-Day Meals have been affected by the statewide lockdown, which has hindered access to other necessities.
  • Advocates for food and education cautioned that while families have been given dry foodgrains or cash transfers in their place, these alternatives would not have the same impact as hot cooked meals served on school grounds, particularly for girl students who experience more discrimination at home and are more likely to drop out of school as a result of the closures.
  • Malnutrition threat: According to the National Family Health Survey-5, levels of child malnutrition have gotten worse in a number of states across the nation.
  • Nearly 50% of severely wasted children under the age of five and 30% of stunted children worldwide reside in India.

2020 Global Nutrition Report

  • India is one of 88 nations that are predicted to fall short of the global nutrition goals by 2025, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2020.
  • Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020: India is now placed 94th out of 107 nations in the GHI 2020. India has a "severe" hunger problem.

The Way Forward

  • Years before those girls and young women become mothers, interventions to increase maternal height and education must be put in place.
  • Although nutritionists have long advocated that improving maternal health and wellbeing is the key to reducing stunting in their offspring, the fight against stunting has frequently focused on improving nutrition for early children.
  • For intergenerational benefits, school meals must be expanded and improved. School-based treatments can be quite beneficial because girls in India finish school, get married, and have children all within a short period of time.

Raed More: Mid-day Meal Scheme

Source: The Indian Express


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