The Central Government has directed the States and Union Territories to carry out the social audit of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in every district by November 30th.
What is the ‘Mid-Day Meal’ scheme?
- The Mid-Day Meal Scheme was started in India on 15th August 1995 as ‘National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE)’.
- It was renamed as ‘National Programme of Mid-Day Meal in Schools’ in October 2007, also known as the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme.
- The current version of the programme, renamed PM Poshan Shakti Nirman or PM Poshan in 2021.
- Under the scheme, hot cooked meal per day is provided to all children (studying in Class I to VIII) enrolled in government schools, local body schools, government-aided schools, special training centres (STC), maktabs and madrasas supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
Objectives of Mid-Day Meal Scheme –
- To increase the enrolment in the schools of the children who belong to disadvantaged sections of the society.
- To increase the attendance of the children in government and government-aided schools.
- To retain the children studying in class I to VIII.
- To give nutritional support to the children studying in the elementary stage, especially in the drought-affected areas.
- To address hunger and malnutrition and improve socialisation among castes.
- Every school should have a hygienic cooking infrastructure for hygienically cooked mid-day meals.
- The mid-day meals are to be served only on the school premises on all working days of the school.
- The headmaster or headmistress is entitled to utilise the school funds on account of mid-day meal fund exhaustion.
- Quality items with AGMARK are procured for cooking the mid-day meals in the schools. AGMARK is a certification mark employed on agricultural products in India, assuring that they conform to a set of standards approved by the Ministry of Agricultural & Farmers Welfare.
- Two or three adult members from the school management committee taste the cooked meals.
- The Food and Drugs Administration Department of the State can collect samples for ensuring the quality and nutritional value of the meals.
- Food allowance is provided to the children when the cooked meals cannot be provided because of unforeseen circumstances in the following manner —
- Quantity of the food grains according to the entitlement of a child, and
- Cooking cost prevailing in the respective state.
Calorie intake –
The calories intake prescribed per child per school day is as follows —
Implementation and Funding –
- Each State/UT has to set up State Steering-cum Monitoring Committees (SSMCs) at the State, District and Block level to oversee the implementation of this scheme, including establishing a mechanism to maintain the quality and nutritional standards of the meals.
- This is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Hence, the cost is shared between the Centre (60%) and States (40%). Sharing is 90:10 for the Northeastern states, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while the Centre bears 100% of the costs in UTs without legislature.
- Concerned Ministry — Ministry of Education
- The Central Government has directed the states and Union Territories to carry out the social audit of the mid-day meal scheme in every district by November 30th.
- Local authorities across the country, running behind schedule in completing the task, which is mandatory under the National Food Security Act, 2013. Under the provisions of Section 28 of National Food Security Act, 2013 social audit of the Mid-Day Meal scheme is mandatory.
- States which have not carried out social audits in 2021-22 include Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Punjab, Odisha, Haryana, Chhattisgarh.
- Many have cited school closure on account of the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for not doing it.
Benefits of Social auditing –
- It creates awareness among beneficiaries about the scheme,
- It empowers public/beneficiaries to hold the government accountable,
- It addresses problems and identify bottlenecks at the grassroots level so that strategic approach may be adopted for effective implementation of the scheme and
- It also helps in popularising and strengthening the scheme at the grassroots level.