Published on March 16, 2014
Mid-Day Meals in India Achievements and Challenges
Brief History MG Ramachandran extended midday meals to all primary school in Tamil Nadu • Existed in Tamil Nadu since the 1960s •In 1995, Government of India implemented it as the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education •Many states provided only “dry rations” until 2001 •Cooked meals only provided in Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa
The “Right to food” case* On 28 November, 2001 the Supreme Court issued the following order: “implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every government and government assisted primary school with a prepared mid-day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8- 12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days” * Officially, “People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India and Others,Writ Petition (Civil) No 196 of 2001”. See www.righttofoodindia.org for more details.
MDM Implementation status in 2003 Source: Drèze and Goyal (2003)
Status today • Beneficiaries – All states provide cooked meals to all primary school children – In 2006, 130 million children got cooked food everyday • Costs per child per day – Rs. 2.21 in 2004 – Rs. 3.06 in 2006
What students and parents say about the MDM • “The school bisi oota is as good as what my mother cooks.” • Roopa, a pupil of Standard 4. • “My children say they like the food. In fact, they actually like going to school now.” • Bhagyamma, a Dalit housewife Source: Parvathi Menon (2003), Frontline,V20(15).
Achievements • Enrolment, retention and attendance • Nutritional impact • Socialization and Educational benefits • Social benefits (esp. for women) • Form of Income support
Enrolment, Attendance and Retention • Enrolment: Big gains, especially for girls and children of other disadvantaged groups (SCs and STs). •Attendance and rentention: Limited evidence on improvement but measurement issues make it difficult to capture these effects.
Nutrition: Quantity • Prescribed food quantity – 300 grams of grain & 8-12 grams of protein – Increased to 450 grams of grain and 12 grams of protein in the 2006 Guidelines • Is this adequate? – Requirements of children aged 5 years are very different from the requirements of children aged 10 years.
Nutrition: Quality • Depends on: – Menu (plain boiled rice) – Cooking practices – Hygiene conditions (kitchens, drinking water)
Supplement or Complement? • Menu is important – e.g., if children are given plain boiled rice at school and parents stop feeding them at home, then there will be a net loss. • No clear evidence yet in India, but..
Qualitative Supplement • With the introduction of a varied menu, recent research suggests that improved menus have an impact. • Improved menus meet up to 22% of RDA as opposed to 11% where the old menu was served (Source: Chhindwara Study in Madhya Pradesh, Afridi, 2005)
Socialization and Health benefits • Socialization (Eating together) • Overcoming caste discrimination (Denial of food to Scheduled caste children, Segregated seating, separate food/utensils for children of different castes) • Inculcating hygienic habits (Washing hands and utensils before and after eating, eating together)
Educational benefits • Impact on learning: – Eliminates classroom hunger - children able to concentrate better as many children would come to school on an empty stomach – Makes school environment more fun
Educational benefits • Can be realised if teachers are teaching rather than organizing meals and children are not made to help with cooking “Preparing and distributing MDM to about 60- 100 children is like managing a wedding lunch every day!” Teacher interviewed by CUTS MDM survey in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan
Implementation • Realization of benefits depended crucially on adequate infrastructure being in place – Kitchens, utensils for cooking and serving – Cooks, helpers, organizers – Drinking water, wood for fuel on/near school premises – Procurement practices
Infrastructure • Importance of infrastructure: – Hygienic cooking not possible without these, esp. water – Chances of disruption of regular teaching activities, esp. kitchens and cooks – Corruption in the system, in the absence of proper storage facilities A “kitchen” in Cuttack district
Infrastructure • No kitchens, no cooks, no utensils, no water, when it was operationalised in 2002 • Improvements since then – Most schools have water and utensils now – Separate kitchens still an issue
Overcoming implementation barriers • Existing cases made learning possible – Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka • Increased political acceptability and popularity – Role of judiciary, media, public mobilization
Overcoming implementation barriers • Role of the judiciary – November 28, 2001 order – Supreme Court order on preference to Dalits in appointment of cooks • Role of public mobilization – Action Day (8 April, 2002): Children lining up on streets with empty plates demanding their meals – Campaign in Jharkhand: Delegation of children met the Chief Minister
Overcoming implementation barriers • “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan”, a central government funded campaign for elementary schooling provided funds for purchase of utensils • Money for construction of kitchens provided under another government programme • Improved access to drinking water through the Accelerated Drinking Water Supply Scheme
Community Participation • Scattered instances of community – parents contributed towards improving menus, or purchase of utensils – Self-help groups – In urban areas, involvement of NGOs • Main thrust from the government
Some Future Concerns • Adding a health component: deworming, regular check-ups, micronutrient supplements: – The MDM provides a good opportunity to implement widely accepted national programmes for iron and Vitamin A supplementation. – However, tremendous commercial pressure seems to be building up to introduce zinc and other micronutrients. The benefits of these need to be fully established.
Some Future Concerns • Corruption Recent reports on pilferage of grain by inflating enrolment records
Acknowledgements This presentation was prepared by Reetika Khera for a “Food for Education” seminar organized by JUNAEB-WFP in Santiago, Chile (11-13 June, 2007). For more information on India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme, please visit www.righttofoodindia.org. Photographs and map from Frontline ( www.flonet.com), Rama Lakshmi (Washington Post) and Sohail Akbar
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MidDay Meals in India. Description: 'implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every government ...
The Right to Food in India The Food ... Mid-Day Meals in India The ... http://www.righttofoodindia.org/data/mid-day_meals_in_india_achievements_and ...
Mid-Day Meals in India Achievements and Challenges Brief History The “Right to food” case* On 28 November, 2001 the Supreme Court issued the following ...
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