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.
History of national roll out of Mid day meal scheme
Mid Day Meal in schools has had a long history in India. In 1925, a Mid Day Meal Programme was introduced for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation. By the mid 1980s three States viz. Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the UT of Pondicherry had universalized a cooked Mid Day Meal Programme with their own resources for children studying at the primary stage. By 1990-91 the number of States implementing the mid day meal programme with their own resources on a universal or a large scale had increased to twelve states.
The National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on 15th August 1995, initially in 2408 blocks in the country. By the year 1997-98 the NP-NSPE was introduced in all blocks of the country. It was further extended in 2002 to cover not only children in classes I -V of Government, Government aided and local body schools, but also children studying in Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centres. Central Assistance under the scheme consisted of free supply of food grains @ 100 grams per child per school day, and subsidy for transportation of food grains up to a maximum of Rs 50 per quintal.
In September 2004, the scheme was revised to provide cooked mid day meal with 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein to all children studying in classes I – V in Government and aided schools and EGS/ AIE centres.
In October 2007, the scheme has been further revised to cover children in upper primary (classes VI to VIII), initially in 3479 Educationally Backwards Blocks (EBBs). Around 1.7 crore upper primary children were included by this expansion of the scheme. From 2008-09 i.e w.e.f 1st April, 2008, the programme covers all children studying in Government, Local Body and Government-aided primary and upper primary schools and the EGS/AIE centres including Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA) of all areas across the country. The calorific value of a mid-day meal at upper primary stage has been fixed at a minimum of 700 calories and 20 grams of protein by providing 150 grams of food grains (rice/wheat) per child/school day.
From the year 2009 onwards the following changes have been made to improve the implementation of the scheme:-
Food norms have been revised to ensure balanced and nutritious diet to children of upper primary group by increasing the quantity of pulses from 25 to 30 grams, vegetables from 65 to 75 grams and by decreasing the quantity of oil and fat from 10 grams to 7.5 grams
Cooking cost (excluding the labour and administrative charges) has been revised from Rs.1.68 to to Rs. 2.50 for primary and from Rs. 2.20 to Rs. 3.75 for upper primary children from 1.12.2009 to facilitate serving meal to eligible children in prescribed quantity and of good quality. The cooking cost for primary is Rs. 2.69 per child per day and Rs. 4.03 for upper primary children from 1.4.2010. The cooking cost was planned to be be revised with prior approval of competent authority by 7.5% every financial year from 1.4.2011.
The honorarium for cooks and helpers was paid from the labour and other administrative charges of Rs.0.40 per child per day provided under the cooking cost. In many cases the honorarium was so little that it became very difficult to engage manpower for cooking the meal. A Separate component for Payment of honorarium @ Rs.1000 per month per cook- cum-helper was introduced from 1.12.2009. Honorarium at the above prescribed rate is being paid to cook-cum-helper. However, in some of the states the honorarium to cook-cum-helpers are being paid more than Rs.1000/- through their state fund. Following norms for engagement of cook-cum-helper have been made:
One cook- cum-helper for schools up to 25 students.
Two cooks-cum-helpers for schools with 26 to 100 students.
One additional cook-cum-helper for every addition of upto 100 students
More than 25.70 lakhs cook-cum-helper are engaged by the State/UTs during 2013-14 for preparation and serving of Mid Day Meal to Children in Elementary Classes.
A common unit cost of construction of kitchen shed @ Rs.60,000 for the whole country was impractical and also inadequate. Now the cost of construction of kitchen-cum-store will be determined on the basis of plinth area norm and State Schedule of Rates. The Department of School Education and Literacy vide letter No.1-1/2009-Desk(MDM) dated 31.12.2009 had prescribed 20 sq.mt. plinth area for schools having upto 100 children. For every additional upto 100 children additional 4 sq.mt plinth area will be added. States/UTs have the flexibility to modify the Slab of 100 children depending upon the local condition.
Due to difficult geographical terrain of the Special category States, the transportation cost @ Rs.1.25 per quintal was not adequate to meet the actual cost of transportation of foodgrains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns to schools in these States. On the request of the North Eastern States, the transportation assistance in the 11 Special Category States (Northern Eastern States, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand) have been made at par with the Public Distribution System (PDS) rates prevalent in these States with effect from 1.12.2009.
From the year April 2019, the following changes have been made.
Annual increase in the cooking cost w.e.f. April linked to inflation index (Consumer Price Index).
Revision of transportation assistance for non-special category of States and UTs, at par with PDS rate subject to maximum amount of Rs.150 per quintal.
Revision of Management, Monitoring and Evaluation (MME) rate from 2% to 3 % of the total admissible recurring Central Assistance for cost of food grains. cooking cost, transport assistance and honorarium to cook~cum· helpers.</li
Revision of rates for procurement / replacement of kitchen devices @ Rs.10000-Rs.25000 on sharing basis as per existing sharing pattern. linked to enrollment as mentioned below;
Enrollment - No. of children
Unit cost in Rs
51 - 150
151 - 250
250 and above
The scheme guidelines envisage to provide cooked mid-day meal with 450 calories and 12 g of protein to every child at primary level and 700 calories and 20 g of protein at upper primary level. This energy and protein requirement for a primary child comes from cooking 100 g of rice/flour, 20 g pulses and 50 g vegetables and 5 g oil, and for an upper primary child it comes from 150 g of rice/flour, 30 g of pulses and 75 g of vegetables and 7.5 g of oil.
The present provisions are as given below:-
Free supply of food grains @ 100 grams per child per school day at Primary and @ 150 grams per child per school day at Upper Primary.
Subsidy for transportation of food grains is provided to 11 special category states at PDS rate prevalent in these states and up to a maximum of Rs.75.00 per quintal for other than special categories States/UTs
In addition to foodgrains, a mid day meal involves major input, viz. cost of cooking, which is explained below. Cost of cooking includes cost of ingredients, e.g. pulses, vegetables, cooking oil and condiments. In order to cover the impact of price rise in the items of consumption in the MDM basket, the cooking cost has been revised upward annually since 2010.
Revised Cooking cost per child per school day w.e.f. 1.04.2020
Non-NER States (60:40)
NER-States, 3 Himalayan states (90:10)
UTs without legislature (100%)
A separate provision for payment of honorarium to cook-cum-helper @ Rs. 1000/- per month has been made. One cook-cum-helper may be engaged in a school having upto 25 students, tow cooks-cum-helpers for schools having 26 to 100 students and one additional cook-cum-helper for every addition of upto 100 students.
Provision of mid day meal during summer vacation in drought affected areas.
Provision of essential infrastructures:- a) Kitchen-cum-stores :- The cost of construction of Kitchen-cum-store is determined on the basis of State Schedule of Rates and the plinth area norm laid down by the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India depending on the number of children studying in schools. However, in case of unconventional item, which do not part of Schedule of Rates, the rates is approved by the State level Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee for MDM Scheme with the condition that such estimates should not exceed the cost of the similar design made through conventional item available in the Schedule of Rates. The cost of construction of Kitchen-cum-store is shared between the Centre and the NER States on 90:10 and with other States /UTs on 75:25 basis. The norm for construction of kitchen-cum-store is given below:- 20 sq. mts. plinth area for construction of Kitchen-cum-store in schools having upto 100 children. For every additional upto 100 children additional 4 sq.mt. plinth area will be added. Slab of 100 children may be modified by the States/UTs depending upon local conditions. For example, the hilly areas, where the number of children in schools is less, may have larger slabs. In one State/UT, there can be more than one slab. However, the modified prescription of plinth area will have to conform to the above ceiling. Assistance of Rs 10,000 for the kitchen cum-stores constructed ten years ago on sharing basis between Center and States b) Kitchen Devices:- Provide assistance for replacement of kitchen devices at an average cost of Rs. 10,000 per school. States/ UT Administration will have the flexibility to incur expenditure on the items listed below on the basis of the actual requirements of the school (provided that the overall average for the State/ UT Administration remains Rs 5000 per school): a. Cooking devices (Stove, Chulha, etc) b. Containers for storage of food grains and other ingredients c. Utensils for cooking and serving.
The intention is to empower mothers of the children covered under the programme to supervise the preparation and serving of the meal and to exercise an effective vigil. Mothers are encouraged to take turns to oversee the feeding of the children, thus ensuring quality and regularity of the meal. For this, they need to devote only a couple of hours once or twice in a month. This simple intervention of ‘mothers watch’, gives them a voice and a role and greater ownership of the programme.
Effective mobilization of mothers would include :
Preference to women in engagement of cooks cum helpers
Orienting mothers towards their role in supervision of the preparation and cooking of meal.
Bringing home to them the fact that their involvement, as the prime stake-holder, would substantially improve the regularity and quality of the meal.
Sensitizing mothers to the critical aspects of the programme required to be supervised by them.
Formalisation of ways of maintaining rosters to enable mothers to take turns on specified days of the year and participate effectively.
Getting their suggestions on strengthening the programme strategies, to enhance community involvement, value addition to meals, etc.