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Sonia Gandhi asks government to restart midday meals in schools

EconomySonia Gandhi asks government to restart midday meals in schools

Sonia Gandhi speaking in Lok Sabha about providing nutritious meals to children, pregnant women and mothers, sought resumption of the scheme.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday asked the government to restart hot cooked midday meals immediately as students have started attending physical classes after the closure of schools for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  She also said it will also help attract those who dropped out of schools during the pandemic.

“Children have been the worst affected due to the pandemic. Schools were the first to be closed and the last to be opened. When schools were closed, midday meals stopped too. People were given ration under National Food Security Act and as per a Supreme Court order. But there was no alternate for dry ration and cooked meals for children. True that families of children had to face a major crisis to earn a living. Such a crisis was never faced before… As children are returning to schools, they need even better nutrition,” said Sonia Gandhi. “I request the government to strengthen its Integrated Child Development Services and re-start the mid-day meal scheme.”

Mid-day Meal Scheme

The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal programme in India created to improve the nutritional standing of school-age children over India.   The programme provides free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government-aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour.

It used to serve 120 million children in over 1.27 million schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, the Midday Meal Scheme is the largest of its kind in the world.

In fact, the Midday Meal Scheme has been executed in the Union Territory of Puducherry under the French Administration since 1930.  In post-independent India, Midday meal Scheme was first launched in Tamil Nadu, pioneered by the former Chief Minister K. Kamaraj in the early 60s. By 2002, the scheme was implemented in all of the states under the orders of the Supreme Court of India.

The name of the scheme has been changed to PM-POSHAN (Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman) Scheme, in September 2021, by MoE (Ministry of Education), which is the nodal ministry for the scheme.  The Central Government also announced that an additional 24 lakh students receiving pre-primary education at government & government-aided schools would also be included under the scheme by 2022.

Under article 24, paragraph 2c of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party,  India has committed to yielding “adequate nutritious food” for children. The programme has undergone many transformations since its takeoff in 1995. The Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013. The legal authorisation of the Indian school meal programme is equivalent to the legal backing provided in the US through the National School Lunch Act.

You may also want to read https://hamslivenews.com/2021/11/15/more-than-one-third-of-the-worlds-malnourished-children-live-in-india/

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