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News: Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the Prime Minister POSHAN scheme or PM-POSHAN for providing one hot cooked meal in Government and Government-aided schools.The scheme will replace the existing national programme for mid-day meal in schools or Mid-day Meal Scheme.It has been launched for an initial period of five years (2021-22 to 2025-26).
• The Mid-day Meal Scheme (under the Ministry of Education) is a centrally sponsored scheme which was launched in 1995.It is considered as the world’s largest school meal programme aimed to attain the goal of universalization of primary education.Provides cooked meals to every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school.
• If the Mid-Day Meal is not provided in school on any school day due to non-availability of food grains or any other reason, the State Government shall pay food security allowance by 15th of the succeeding month.
PM POSHAN Scheme
• The new scheme has a provision for supplementary nutrition for children in aspirational districts and those with high prevalence of anaemia.
• It essentially does away with the restriction on the part of the Centre to provide funds only for wheat, rice, pulses and vegetables. Currently, if a state decides to add any component like milk or eggs to the menu, the Centre does not bear the additional cost. Now that restriction has been lifted.
• Nutri-gardens will be developed in schools to give children “firsthand experience with nature and gardening”.
• To promote vocal for local, women self-help groups and farmer producer organisations will be encouraged to provide a fillip to locally grown traditional food items.
• The scheme also plans “inspection” by students of colleges and universities for ground-level execution.
• Communities would also be encouraged to provide the children food at festivals etc, while cooking festivals to encourage local cuisines are also envisaged.
• In other procedural changes meant to promote transparency and reduce leakages, States will be asked to do direct benefit cash transfers of cooking costs to individual school accounts, and honorarium amounts to the bank accounts of cooks and helpers.
• The rebranded scheme aims to focus on “holistic nutrition” goals. Use of locally grown traditional foods will be encouraged, along with school nutrition gardens.