School Mid-day Meal Programme in India: Past, Present, and Future.

Affiliation

Nutrition Foundation of India, C 13 Qutab Institutional Area, New Delhi, 110016, India. [Email]

Abstract

The National Programme for Nutrition Support for Primary Education was initiated in 1995 with two major objectives: universalisation of primary education and improvement in nutritional status of primary school children. The Central Government provided 100 g of wheat /rice per day free of cost to children studying in classes I-V in all Government, local body and Government aided primary schools. Kerala, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh and MP provided hot cooked meals using the cereals provided but all other states and UTs provided 3 kg cereals/month to children with 80% attendance. By 2001, over 100 million students in 7,92,000 schools were covered under the programme. There was some improvement in enrolment but the programme had no impact on classroom hunger. In 2001 the Supreme Court of India ruled that Mid-day meal (MDM) is a legal entitlement for all school children and that the government should provide a hot cooked mid-day meal for 200 d to all primary school children. In the last decade, universal primary education and MDM have been achieved. MDM is providing hot cooked meals every day to about 100 million children. Cereal content of MDM is adequate but pulse and vegetable content of MDM are inadequate; these lacunae have to be addressed. School health services in co-ordination with MDM can identify under-nourished, normal and over-nourished children by using Body mass index (BMI) for age, and provide appropriate counseling and care. If this practice is institutionalized and routinely followed, there can be substantial improvement in nutritional status of children.

Keywords

Dietary intake,Hot cooked meal,Mid-day meal,Nutritional status,School children,