Midday Meal Scheme: In India, families below the poverty line are deprived of basic nutrition. The result is a lot of death count of children under the age of 14. According to stats, about 1 million infants die within 2 weeks of their birth in the country due to lack of medical facility as well as nutrition value food.
Malnutrition has been a major problem amongst many children in the country because of the lack of quality food resources.
Midday Meal Scheme
• Most of the BPL families, eat just enough food that is required for them to sustain the day, thus adding no nutrition to their food. Many families even eat just one meal a day in order to survive.
• This can be alarming at many levels which is why there was a scheme that was designed by the government of India where children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centers.
Madarsa and Maqtabs, are provided with nutritional food in the educational institution in the afternoon. This is known as the Midday Meal Scheme and it is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.
• These kinds of schemes were already launched earlier by the Indian Government and it started in the year 1925.
• This increased the number of children attending school because education at these institutions is free and kids get quality food as well.
• When the stats showed that around 68 lakh children in India suffered from malnutrition was when the Midday Meal Scheme was first introduced as ‘Nutritious Food Scheme’.
• The government also saw improvement in the performance of students in those schools where this scheme was applied.
• In 2001, the Supreme Court ordered all government and government-assisted primary schools to provide cooked midday meals keeping in mind the public interest litigation which is known as ‘right to life’.
• One major factor that supported the scheme was that it mentioned that the conversion costs for a cooked meal, under no circumstances, shall be recovered from the children or their parents.
• The Central Government also allocates funds to meet with the conversion costs of food-grains into cooked midday meals.
• The Central Government makes provisions for the construction of kitchen sheds.
• In the appointment of cooks and helpers, preference was given to Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
• Attempts were made for better infrastructure, improved facilities (safe drinking water, etc.), closer monitoring (regular inspection, etc.) and other quality safeguards as also the improvement of the contents of the meal so as to provide a nutritious meal to the children of the primary schools.
In addition to the above benefits, the government added that in areas that are prone to drought, the meal would be supplied even at the time of summer vacations.
This scheme has improved the literacy level in the country and has reduced the problem of malnutrition; however, there is still the time when we will be able to proudly say that in India there is not a single that suffers from malnutrition.