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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 38-39

The Mid Day Meal scheme: A holistic initiative to augment the nutritional and educational status of the children


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication24-Jun-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur Guduvancherry Main Road, PO - Sembakkam, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.135226

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  Abstract 

The World Health Organization has estimated that in the year 2012, out of the 6.5 million deaths reported worldwide in the under-five year age group, around 2.4 million were from India alone. All these nutrition-related indices clearly reflect that the nutritional status of under-five children is still bad and needs concerted efforts from the policy makers and the health care professionals in the country. In response to the poor nutrition indicators in the children, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, launched the Mid Day Meal scheme in the year 1995. Currently, it is the world's largest school feeding program that caters to about 120 million children in over 1.2 million schools and other centers. Although progress is being observed in the country's commitment to successfully achieve the Millennium Development Goals -1 and 4, the overall achievement is far from the expected. To conclude, the Mid Day Meal Scheme is one of the country's national flagships feeding scheme initiated to improve the nutritional and educational status of the vulnerable children. However, the sustainability of the scheme depends on the political will, community participation, and continuous monitoring of the program.

Keywords: Children, Education, India, Mental development, Mid day meal, Physical development, Nutrition


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. The Mid Day Meal scheme: A holistic initiative to augment the nutritional and educational status of the children. J Med Soc 2014;28:38-9

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. The Mid Day Meal scheme: A holistic initiative to augment the nutritional and educational status of the children. J Med Soc [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Oct 30];28:38-9. Available from: https://www.jmedsoc.org/text.asp?2014/28/1/38/135226


  Magnitude of Malnutrition in Children Top


The World Health Organization has estimated that in the year 2012, out of the 6.5 million deaths reported worldwide in the under-five year age group, around 2.4 million were from India alone. [1] Further, among the 98.6 million (underweight) and 161.7 million (stunted) children detected worldwide, approximately 46.9 million (47.6%) and 60.5 million (37.4%) were from the South East Asian region itself. [2],[3] In fact, the district level household and facility survey reported that almost 48% of the India's under-five year children are stunted, which is an indicator of chronic malnutrition. [4] All these nutrition-related indices clearly reflect that the nutritional status of under-five children is still bad and needs serious attention and concerted efforts from the policy makers and the health care professionals in the country. [1],[5]


  Introduction Top


Mid Day Meal Scheme

In response to the poor nutrition indicators in the children, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, launched the Mid Day Meal scheme in the year 1995. [5] The scheme was initiated to achieve three major objectives, namely improve the literacy rates by enhancing the enrollment rates; minimize school drop-outs by ensuring their retention in the school; and to upgrade their nutritional status by supplementing them with food items. [5],[6] Subsequent to the launch of the scheme, a gradual improvement has been observed in the under-five mortality, nutritional indices, and physical and mental development of the children of the country. [1] In fact, subsequent to the promising results, the mid day meal is regarded as a medium to improve the iodine levels and iron stores of the children. [7],[8] Currently, it is the world's largest school feeding program that caters to about 120 million children in over 1.2 million schools/education guarantee scheme (EGS) centers/Alternate Innovative Education (AIE) centers across the country. [5]

Mid Day Meal Scheme: Principles, Reforms, and Current Status

The Mid Day Meal Scheme is based on a set of broad principles such as the meal should only be a supplement to the home diet, it should meet at least one-third and half of the total energy and protein requirement; use of locally available foods, frequent change in the menu to avoid monotony, and employment of the standard practices of cooking to avoid loss of nutrients during the process of cooking. [6],[9] Over the years, the scheme has been modified on different fronts ranging from target population, the type of food items provided, total calorie and protein support, involved schools / type of educational institutions, cooking cost, subsidy rates, support staff norms, and honorarium for cooks etc. [5],[6] Today, the Mid Day Meal Scheme serves all the primary and upper primary school children in the entire country and it provides 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein everyday for all children studying in classes I to V of the enrolled centers. [5]

Identified Bottlenecks in the Implementation

Although progress is being observed in the country's commitment to successfully achieve the Millennium Development Goals-1 (viz. eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) and 4 (viz. reduce child mortality), the overall achievement is far from the expected. [1],[3] In addition, many barriers have been recognized in the successful implementation of the program such as an ineffective mechanism for monitoring and evaluation, inferior food quality, non-adherence to the recommended protocols (viz. the practice of hand-washing before food preparation and eating by the students/ cooks/ supervisors/ teachers, tasting food before serving, provision of safe and wholesome water, and adequate sanitation practices) while preparing the food, and occurrence of a life-threatening event subsequent to the consumption of mid day meal in the schools. [5],[10]

Interventions to Expand the Coverage

A range of measures has been made to improve the current status of the implementation of the scheme by enhancing the political commitment: An increase in the financial allocation of the special states in proportion to their needs, formulating specific guidelines (viz. to ensure quality, safety and hygiene of the meals, for augmenting the involvement of voluntary and non-governmental organizations, for building sound monitoring and evaluation policy, and for the strengthening of infrastructure - construction cost of kitchen-cum-stores/monetary incentives to the workforce), training of the cook and the helpers to maintain food safety, expansion of the program to cover children from the National Child Labor Project/Madarsas/educationally backward blocks, creating awareness about the provisions available under the scheme among the marginalized communities, building linkages with different stakeholders - education sector/public distribution system/international agencies like United Nation's Children Fund/etc., conducting social audit, capacity building of the laboratories, and organizing regular review meetings to enable implementation of the corrective measures. [5],[6],[10]


  Conclusion Top


To conclude, the Mid Day Meal Scheme is one of the country's national flagships feeding scheme initiated to improve the nutritional and educational status of the vulnerable children. However, the sustainability of the scheme depends on the political will, community participation and continuous monitoring of the program.

 
  References Top

1.World Health Organization. MDG 4: Child health: Under-five mortality by country. Available from: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.180. [Last accessed on 2014 Jan 26].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.World Health Organization. Joint child malnutrition estimates (UNICEF-WHO-WB): Global and regional trends by WHO Regions, 1990-2012 Underweight; 2013. Available from: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.NUTWHOUNDERWEIGHTv?lang=en. [Last accessed on 2014 Jan 26].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.World Health Organization. Joint child malnutrition estimates (UNICEF-WHO-WB): Global and regional trends by WHO Regions, 1990-2012 Stunting; 2013. Available from: http://apps.who.int/gho/data/view.main.NUTWHOSTUNTINGv?lang=en. [Last accessed on 2014 Jan 22].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.International Institute for Population Sciences. District level household and facility survey 2007-08, 2010. Available from: http://nrhm-mis.nic.in/ui/reports/dlhsiii/INDIAREPORTDLHS3.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Feb 5].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Ministry of Human Resource Development. Midday meal scheme; 2013. Available from: http://mdm.nic.in/. [Last accessed on 2013 Dec 19].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Park K. Nutrition and health. In: Park K, editor. Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 20 th ed. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot; 2009. p. 574-5, 794-6.   Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Rah JH, Garg A, Naidu BR, Agrawal DD, Pandey RS, Aguayo VM. Reaching the poor with adequately iodized salt through the supplementary nutrition programme and midday meal scheme in Madhya Pradesh, India. Bull World Health Organ 2013;91:540-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Radhika MS, Nair KM, Kumar RH, Rao MV, Ravinder P, Reddy CG, et al. Micronized ferric pyrophosphate supplied through extruded rice kernels improves body iron stores in children: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled midday meal feeding trial in Indian school children. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:1202-10.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Meiselman HL, deGraaf C, Lesher LL. The effects of variety and monotony on food acceptance and intake at a midday meal. Physiol Behav 2000;70:119-25.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.UNICEF India. UNICEF India statement on child deaths in Bihar due to mid day meal consumption; 2013. Available from: http://www.unicef.org/india/media_8294.htm. [Last accessed on 2014 Jan 22].  Back to cited text no. 10
    



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[Pubmed] | [DOI]



 

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