The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi approved the new meal scheme known as ‘Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman’ on the 29th of September, 2021, for the Government and government-aided school for the next five years. The financial outlay of the scheme is Rs 1.31 trillion, with the existing ‘ Mid Day Meal’ will also be included in this programme.
The central government will bear the cost of nearly Rs 45,000 crore on providing subsidised foodgrains for the Ministry of Food over the years amounting to a total cost of Rs 1.31 trillion. During 2020-21, the Centre has invested more than Rs 24,400 crore in the scheme, including nearly Rs 11,500 crore in foodgrains.
Features of the scheme
The centrally sponsored Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman SchemeWe provide hot cooked meals to students of Elementary classes in schools and it is expected to benefit around 118 million children studying in standard 12 standard 8 across the country.
The National mid-day meal scheme will now be known as the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme and also covers students of Balvatikas, that are children between the age group of 3-5, from pre-primary classes.
Initially, the scheme was known as the ‘National Scheme for the Mid Day Meal in schools’ or popularly known as the ‘Mid-day meal’ scheme.
The social audit of the scheme is compulsory in all districts of the country and special provision is made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in those districts with a high prevalence of anaemia and other health-related ailments.
The centre has instructed the states and the union territories to switch to Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)System for providing compensation to the cooks and helpers working under the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme.
The utilisation of locally grown nutritional food items will be encouraged from ‘school nutrition gardens’ for promoting local economic growth. In order to promote ethnic cuisine, cooking operations will be conducted and innovative menus will also include the involvement of Farmers Producers Organisations or FPR and Women Self Help Groups in the implementation of the scheme.
The mid-day meal scheme was launched by the central government in the year 1995 in order to provide free cooked meals to children in primary schools that are classes 125 and the age group of 6 to 10 years.
Earlier, the state did not participate in the scheme but between the years 1999 and 2004, the coverage of the program increased manifold, largely because of an order from the Supreme Court of India directing state governments to provide mid-day meals in primary schools.
This scheme will ensure one meal to all children in government, government-aided schools and Madrasas supported under the Samagra Shiksha. The scheme falls under the Ministry of HRD and the children will be guaranteed cooked meals for at least 200 days a year.
The mid-day meal scheme is also covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.