News: The Union Minister for Education has approved the proposal to provide monetary assistance to 11.8 Crore students (118 Million Students) through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of the cooking cost component of the Mid-Day-Meal Scheme, to all eligible children, as a special welfare measure.
Significance of the decision:
- This will give a fillip to the Midday Meal programme. This is in addition to the Government of India’s announcement of distribution of free-of-cost food grains @ 5 Kg per person per month to nearly 80 Crore beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY).
- This decision will help safeguard the nutritional levels of children and aid in protecting their immunity during the challenging pandemic times.
About Mid-day Meal Scheme:
- To enhance the enrollment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improve nutritional levels among school going children studying in Classes I to VIII of Government, Government – aided schools, Special Training centres (STC) and Madarasas and Maktabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
- The Midday Meal Scheme comes under the HRD Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy.
- Launched in the year 1995 as a centrally sponsored scheme, it provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school, shall be provided hot cooked meal having nutritional standards of 450 calories and 12 gm of protein for primary (I- V class) and 700 calories and 20 gm protein for upper primary (VI-VIII class), free of charge every day except on school holidays.
- The scheme covers all government and government aided schools and also Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The last Mid-Day Meal Rules were notified in the year 2015 under the National Food Security Act, 2013 but amendments have been made from time to time.
What does the latest rules provide for?
- The place of serving meals to the children shall be school only. The meal shall be prepared in accordance with the Mid Day Meal guidelines issued by the Central Government from time to time.
- The latest guidelines provide instructions on procuring AGMARK quality items for preparation of midday meals, tasting of meals by two or three adult members of the school management committee, including at least one teacher, before serving to children.
- 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 15thof the succeeding month. The School Management Committee mandated under Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 shall also monitor implementation of the Mid-day meal Scheme.
- The State Steering-cum Monitoring Committee (SSMC) shall oversee the implementation of the scheme including establishment of a mechanism for maintenance of nutritional standards and quality of meals.
- The government provides financial support to the eligible schools/implementing agencies in the form of free food grains and by bearing cooking related costs.