The mid-day meal scheme is a school meal programme to serve freshly cooked lunches to the students studying at government and government-aided schools. The objective of the scheme is to help improve the effectiveness of primary education by improving the nutritional status of school-going children. At present, the mid-day meal is served to students from classes’ I-VIII. When this scheme was introduced it was seen as the major step in the fight against malnutrition and it has helped in bringing down malnutrition among students of government schools along with decreasing the illiteracy rate.
The mid-day meal scheme has benefitted in many other ways as well, including the following:
- The scheme has helped to increase the number of school enrolments of children who belong to disadvantaged sections of society. School dropouts have also reduced since the implementation of the scheme
- The attendance of students in government and government-aided schools have increased and is on the rise
- The scheme has also improved the rate of girl children attending school and completing their education. The meals provided are viewed as an incentive by the parents to send all their children to school
- It has helped in fostering social equality as children from different religions, castes, gender are having their lunch together and this lunch is prepared by people from different communities.
- It has helped to reduce deficiency-related diseases that are endemic in some areas of our country
At present, numerous NGOs are working along with the Government to increase the scope of the mid-day meal scheme. The meals provided are rich in nutrients and include the necessary quantities of protein, carbohydrates, and fats required for essential cognitive and physical development. The eggs, milk, and vegetables included in the food items are necessary to increase students' daily calorie intake. The meals are also cooked in hygienic kitchens and are packaged neatly before they are distributed.
Since its implementation, the mid-day meal has proven to be a very important step in India’s battle against malnutrition. It is good to see that many people are coming forward through these NGOs as volunteers and donors to address this issue. As these young children are the future of our nation, it is our duty to ensure that they receive the necessary support for necessary growth and development.