Daily News Analysis

MID-DAY MEAL SCHEME

19th July, 2021 Polity

Context:

  • A study on the inter-generational benefits of the midday meal schemepublished in Nature Communications.

Finding of the Report:

  • By 2016, the prevalence of stunting was significantly lower in areas where the scheme was implemented in 2005.
  • The scheme was associated with 13-32% of the improvement in the height-for-age z-scores in India between 2006 and 2016.
  • Girls who had access to free lunches provided at government schools had children with a higher height-to-age ratio than those who did not.
  • The study noted that interventions to improve maternal height and education must be implemented years before those girls and young women become mothers.
  • The linkages between midday meals and lower stunting in the next generation were stronger in the lower socio-economic strata and likely work through women’s education, fertility, and the use of health services

Evolution of the Scheme

  • The concept of mid-day meal scheme is not new in India as its roots can be traced back to pre pre-independence era when British administration initiated a Mid Day Meal Programme for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation in 1925.
  • Like this many such programmes were initiated in different states.
  • In 1953, the Government of Uttar Pradesh started another such scheme.
  • Tamil Nadu became the first state in India to introduce a noon meal programme in primary schools.
  • In 1984 this scheme was introduced in Gujarat.
  • From time to time the meal scheme was taken up by different states and later on it was taken up as a national scheme.
  • The Government of India launched the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (Commonly known as Mid-Day Meal Scheme) in 1995 to provide mid-day meals to the children studying at primary stage.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court directed the Government to provide cooked Mid-Day Meals in all Government and Government aided primary schools.
  • It was revised in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
  • It is the world’s largest school meal programme and reaches an estimated 11 crore children across 12 lakh schools in India.

Objectives of Mid-Day meal scheme

  • Improving the nutritional status of children in classes I – VIII in Government, Local Body and Government aided schools, and Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and
  • Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centers, National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schools and Madarasa and Maqtabs supported under SarvaShikshaAbhiyan (SSA).
  • 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 the elementary stage in drought-a ected areas during summer vacation.
  • To enhance the enrollment of children in schools.
  • To develop the tendency to stay in schools in the children especially during interval and to reduce the drop-out rate.
  • To foster the feeling of brotherhood and to develop a positive outlook through co-eating and combined food preparation for the children belonging to different religions and castes.