HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

1.1 The concept of Mid-Day Meal has a long history in India. In 1925, a MidDay Meal Programme was introduced for children belonging to poor socioeconomic status in Madras Corporation area. In 1928, Keshav Academy of Calcutta introduced compulsory Mid-Day Tiffin for school boys on payment basis at the rate of four annas per child per month. In 1941, in parts of Kerala, the School Lunch Programme was started. in 1942, Bombay started implementing a free Mid-Day Meal Scheme. A Mid-Day Meal Scheme was introduced in Bangalore city in 1946, to provide cooked rice and yoghurt. In 1953, Uttar Pradesh Government introduced a scheme, on voluntary basis, to provide meals consisting of boiled or roasted or sprouted grams, ground-nut, puffed rice, boiled potatoes or seasonal fruits. In the 1950s, many States came to introduce mid-day meal programmes with the assistance of different international agencies like UNICEF, FAO and WHO. International voluntary/charity organisations like Catholic Relief Service (CRS), Church World Service (CWS), CARE, USA's Meals for Million, etc, also came forward to assist in these programmes. During 1958-59, an Expanded Nutrition Programme (ENP) jointly by FAO, WHO, UNICEF and Government of India was introduced, which was subsequently expanded into Applied Nutrition Programme (ANP).

1.2 The idea of a National Mid-Day Meal Programme had been considered again and again for over a decade. In 1982, the idea of 'Food for Learning' with FAO commodity assistance was mooted. Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) girls were to be covered under this programme.

1.3 In 1983, the Department of Education in the Central Government after interministerial consultations, prepared a scheme as per the guidelines of the World Food Programme (WFP). As per this, 13.6 million SC children and 10.09 ST girls in classes I-V were to be covered in 15 States and 3 Union Territories, where the enrolment of SC/ST girls was less than 79 per cent. The food material required as aid from WFP for one year was estimated to be 392,696 mts. of food grains, 19,635 mts. edible/butter oil, and 19,635 nits. of milk powder. In monetary terms, the total annual cost of commodity assistance was $163.27 M. (Rs.1551.17 M. at an exchange rate of Rs.9.50/US V. The other cost, such as transportation, handling, cooking, etc., were to be borne by the State Governments. The proposal was circulated among States and UTs. Many States were willing to implement the programme. However, some States expressed certain difficulties. Rajasthan, for example, intimated that in case WFP assistance was withdrawn, the State would not be able to continue the programme on its own. Uttar Pradesh intimated that it would not be practicable to have mid-day meals only for SC/ST children.

1.4 A programme for Central Government assistance for mid-day meals for children in primary schools throughout the country was again considered during the year 1984-85. The broad rationale for the programme were the following:

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* Mid-day meal programme for primary schools could be construed as an antipoverty educational programme;

* Implementation of this programme for the age- group of 6-11 may maximise enrolments and reduce school drop-out rates and this would be important from the point of view of universalisation of elementary education;

* This would help in providing nutrition to the under-fed and under - nourished children in the rural areas; provision of meals to children in schools would also 'release foodgrains' in poor families for non-school going children; and, in effect, this would be an investment in human resource

The broad features of the programme were:

* Coverage of primary school children in a phased manner so that by the end of the seventh Plan, 9.54 crore children could be covered; the estimated expenditure for the whole plan being Rs.4000 crore;

* Provision of uniform nutrition for the children at 300 calories per day with 1215 grams of protein (100 grams of cereal, 10 grams of dal and 5 grams of edible oil);

* Expenditure per child, including expenses on administration to be 60 paise;

* Food Corporation of India to release food grains at Central Issue Prices; the value of which to be counted against Central assistance to State, estimated Central assistance for the year 1989-90 being reckoned at Rs. 623.50 crore;

* No elaborate administrative infrastructure to be built up;

* Linkage of implementation of the scheme with existing civil supplies distribution system;

* Supply of rations to be in kind and deliveries thereof be made through State/cooperative agencies;

* Central assistance to be limited to 50 per cent;

* Each State to have its own specific scheme with appropriate infrastructure and delivery systems subject to laid down parameters;

* Scheme to be implemented during the 7th Plan period in a phased manner;

* Funds to be provided, for the programme not to be construed as part of the outlay under the Head 'Education';

* Funds required for the programme to come from provisions earmarked for poverty alleviation scheme.

* While wheat and rice could be supplied through the Food Corporation of India, States would have to make their own arrangements for pulses and oil;

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* States should evolve suitable logistics and make arrangements for cooks, helpers, administration, supervision and monitoring;

* Implementation of the scheme to start with ICDS blocks; monitoring mechanism evolved under ICDS to be adopted/adapted for mid-day meal scheme as well;

* Community involvement in the implementation of the scheme;

It was also recognised that the scheme had certain inherent problems such as possibilities of leakage, inadequacy of buildings, non- attendance of teachers, participation by non-school going children, abuse by those incharge, etc. It was, however, presumed that the problems would get addressed as the programme got moving. The Planning Commission prepared a set of guidelines for implementation of the scheme during the seventh Five Year Plan. This is in Annexure-I. However, the programme was not approved as part of the seventh Plan, nor were proposals taken up for consideration during the annual plans, apparently due to resource constraints.

1.5 The Fifth All India Educational Survey had brought out the following facts on the coverage of mid-day meals in 1986. Free mid- day meals were provided to 13.67 million or 15.91 per cent primary school students and to 7.07 million or 25.93 per cent upper primary school students. Inter-state variations ranged from nil coverage in Manipur to 46.14 per cent in Sikkim, 47.55 per cent in Tamil Nadu, 47.84 per cent in West Bengal, 53.23 per cent in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, 56.07 per cent in Tripura and 59.94 per cent in Lakshadweep at the primary level. Mid-day meals were provided in 27.9 per cent primary, 24.28 per cent upper primary, 7.20 per cent secondary and 11.82 per cent higher secondary schools. In rural areas, 28.28 per cent primary, 25.06 per cent upper primary, 7.51 per cent secondary and 11.8 per cent higher secondary schools had provision for mid-day meals as against 24.75 per cent primary, 20.91 per cent upper primary, 6.31 per cent secondary and 11.84 per cent higher secondary schools in urban areas. There were 22.6 million students who were availing of this facility at all levels of school education; of these 78.41 per cent were studying in rural schools, 40.98 per cent were girls, 20.05 per cent were Scheduled Caste Children and 12.81 per cent were Scheduled Tribe children.

1.6 In December 1988, the Department of Education formulated a proposal for covering 994 ICDS blocks with concentration of SC/ST children. It was suggested that if the Programme was to be implemented in all the ICDS blocks, (994) with concentration of tribal and scheduled caste population @ Re.1/- per child per day for primary school children, the annual expenditure would come to about Rs. 277.32 crore. The important elements of the guidelines for this scheme, which were based on the earlier guidelines prepared by the Planning Commission, were the following:

* The scheme should cover all children in primary classes in government, government - aided and local body schools.

* Mid-day meals should be provided on all school working days.

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* Ration for mid-day meals may be as follows:-

(a) Cereals - 100 gms per day per child

(b) Pulses - 10 " " " (Dal)

(c) Edible Oil - 5 " " "

(d) Fuel

* CARE assistance, if any, should be excluded.

* Cereals and, to the extent possible, pulses, edible oil and condiments should be supplied to the schools through authorised State agencies; State Governments may make use of the distribution infrastructure of Civil Supplies Corporations, cooperative agencies or other departmental outlets; Food Corporation of India would deliver stocks of wheat and rice to the State Government agencies nominated for the purpose in its depots at central issue prices.

* To the maximum extent possible, wheat should be utilised for mid-day meals, supply of rice being restricted to pre-dominantly rice eating areas. Other grains locally available could also be utilised by the States-

* States should make arrangements for appointment of cooks, helpers and supervisors. As far as possible, the cook should be a woman. The cooks and helpers should be from the same village. The State should make necessary arrangements for storage of food materials, cooking and service.

* Maximum public cooperation should be sought involving local people's representatives to oversee smooth flow of materials and service of meals.

* For the management of the scheme parallel administrative machinery should not be built up. Existing infrastructure should be used with the fullest feasible delegation of powers.

* At the District level, there should be a Supervisory Committee under the Chairmanship of the District Collector; at the State level, there should be a Committee under the Chief Secretary with members drawn from different concerned Departments. At the Central level also, there should be a Monitoring Committee with representatives from different Departments.

1.7 In 1990-91, 17 State Governments were implementing a Mid-day Meal Programme for primary school children between the age-group 6-11 years with varying degrees of coverage. Twelve States, namely, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh, were implementing a Mid-Day Meal Programme from out of their own resources. In three States, namely, Karnataka, Orissa and West Bengal, the programme was being implemented partially from out of their own resources and partially with assistance from CARE. Two States, namely, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan were running the Programme only with CARE assistance and discontinued on stoppage of the assistance.

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