Mid Day Meal Scheme in India – MDM

Mid-day Meal Scheme

Food and education are two of the most important areas of concern amidst the poor population of India. People living with limited means have limited access to food resources and seldom enrol for a formal education. Children, who are the future of India, belonging to the lower income class dont get these two basic necessities. Therefore, to promote education and to provide children with the basic nutrition, the Mid-day Meal Scheme was launched by the Government of India. The scheme was officially called the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education. Lets understand the background of the scheme and what the scheme is all about

Why was the Mid-day Meal Scheme launched?

The main objectives of launching the scheme of mid-day meals to children were the following

  • To improve enrolment of children to school
  • To ensure retention of children in classes and also
  • For retaining their attendance in classes
  • To improve the level of nutrition among children etc

What does the Mid-day Meal scheme provide?

The scheme provides free meals to children studying in specific schools. The meals would be provided on all working days.

Eligibility to avail the Mid-day Meal Scheme

This scheme is applicable for school-going children studying in Government schools, schools aided by the Government, Special Training Centres, Madarasas and Maktabs which are supported under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

History and Implementation of the Mid-day Meal scheme

The Mid-day Meal Scheme was launched officially on 15th August, 1995 but it has a deep-rooted history going to the pre-independence times. Here are some main historical facts

  • A Mid-day Meal Programme was launched for disadvantaged children in the Madras Municipal Corporation in the year 1925.
  • By mid 1980s, the Mid-day Meal Programme became a common thing in the schools of Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. These States and Union Territory used their own resources for arranging meals for children
  • By the year 1990-91, the Mid-day Meal Programme became implemented in 12 States of India because of its popularity and universal relevance

Then, in August 1995, the scheme was officially launched under the name of National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education. Here are the various stages of implementation of the scheme

  • In 1995, the scheme was launched only in 2048 blocks in India
  • By the year 1997-98, the scheme became applicable in all parts of the country
  • Initially, the scheme covered children studying in classes 1 to 5 of Government schools, Government aided schools or local schools. However, in 2002, the scheme was extended to include children studying under the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and at Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centres.
  • Furthermore in October, 2007, about 1.7 crore additional children were included under the scheme as the children studying in Classes 6 to 8 in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBB) got included in the schemes coverage

History of meals provided under the Mid-day Meal scheme

The meals provided under the scheme have also undergone changes in terms of their nutritional value and quantities. Heres a look as to the changes which happened in meals under the scheme over years

  • Earlier, the Government gave assistance for running the scheme. This assistance included free food grains supply @ 100 grams per child per school. Subsidy was also provided for transportation costs incurred in transporting food grains. This subsidy was limited to INR 50 per quintal of food grains
  • In September 2004, there was a revision of meal scheme. It was stated that the mid-day meal should be a minimum of 300 calorie meal where the protein content should be 8-12 grams for children studying in Classes 1 to 5 in Government schools, Government aided schools, Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and at Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) centres.

Current meal provisions under the Mid-day Meal scheme

Under the current scheme, the meal provisions are as follows

  • A minimum of 700 calorie meal should be provided to school children studying in the upper primary level. The meal should consist of a minimum of 20 grams of protein and 150 grams of food grains per child per school. The meal should therefore have a minimum of 150 grams of rice or flour, 30 grams of pulses, 75 grams of vegetables and 7.5 grams of oil.
  • If the child is studying at the primary level, the meal should be at least a 450 calorie meal with at least 12 grams of protein. The source of this nutrition should come from 100 grams of rice or flour, 20 grams of pulses, 50 grams of vegetables and 5 grams of oil.

Provisions offered by the Government for the Mid-day Meal Scheme

The Government of India, currently, offers the following provisions for the Mid-day Meal Scheme

  • Food grains are supplied free of cost for the preparation of meals. The quantum is 100 grams per child per school for children studying at the primary level and 150 grams per child per school for upper primary level
  • Subsidy is allowed for transporting the food grains. This subsidy is allowed at PDS rates in 11 special category Indian States. For other States and Union Territories, the subsidy is limited to INR 75 per quintal.
  • Cost of cooking is also covered under the Mid-day meal Scheme. This cost includes the cost of raw materials required for cooking the meals. For children studying at Primary level, the total allowed cooking cost is INR 4.13 per child per school. This cost is shared by the Central and the State Government in the portion of INR 2.48 and INR 1.65. However, for North-Eastern States, the sharing ratio changes to INR 3.72 and INR 0.41. For children studying at the upper primary level, the cost of cooking funded by the Government is INR 6.18. Out of this, the Central Government pays INR 3.71 and the State Government pays the remaining INR 2.47. For North-Eastern States, however, the Central Government pays INR 5.56 and the State Government pays INR 0.62.
  • The Government also pays an honorarium for engaging a cook-cum-helper for preparing the meals. This honorarium is limited to INR 1000 per cook-cum-helper. If the school has up to 25 students, one cook-cum-helper can be appointed. If, however, the school has more children, more cooks and helpers can be appointed. The Government would, however, pay for a specified number of cooks-cum-helpers only. For instance, for schools having 26 to 100 children, the Government allows payment for 2 cooks-cum-helpers. Moreover, for an addition of 100 students, one additional cook-cum-helper can be appointed by the school on Government funding.

Other facilities provided by the Government for smooth implementation of Mid-day Meal Scheme

Besides the above-mentioned major provisions for arranging mid-day meals, the Government also covers the costs for arranging the below-mentioned provisions

  • Mid-day meals are provided for even during summer vacations for areas which are drought affected
  • Essential infrastructure is also provided for so that the meals can be arranged easily. These infrastructures include the following
  • Kitchen-cum-stores the Government also pays for constructing a kitchen-cum-store for cooking meals and storing raw materials and the cooked meals. The eligible cost of construction payable by the Government is calculated depending on the State Schedule of Rates and the norms of plinth area which have been prescribed by the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The cost depends on the number of children who are studying in the concerned school where construction is to take place. If, however, there is an unconventional item which is not covered under the State Schedule of Rates, the eligible cost should be approved by the State level Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee of the Mid-day Meal Scheme. The Central Government and the respective State Governments share the cost of construction of the kitchen-cum-store. The ratio of sharing cost between the Central and State Government is 75%:25%. This ratio increases to 90%:10% in case of North-Eastern States of India. There are construction norms too which should be followed for availing Government assistance. The norms state that if the school has up to 100 children, the plinth area for construction should be limited to 20 square metres.
  • Kitchen devices since kitchen devices are essential for cooking a meal, the Government provides financial assistance for such devices too. The assistance is provided in a phased manner for buying or replacing the kitchen devices. The amount is limited to INR 5000 per school. Kitchen devices which can be funded under this provision include cooking device like a stove, Chulha, etc., storage containers for storing food grains, cooking and serving utensils, etc.

Participation of the community in the mid-day meal scheme

The Government has also taken steps to encourage community participation to enhance the mid-day meal scheme. The objective of promoting community participation is to motivate and encourage mothers of the children who are covered under the scheme to supervise the preparation of the meal served to children. If mothers pay attention to the meal being prepared and served, the children would be ensured to receive good quality food. Moreover, it is encouraged that mothers should, taking turns, keep a watch on the meals being served so that no meal is missed and the suitable quantity and quality of the meal is served. This concept of mothers watch would give mothers voice to raise any concerns and would also ensure their role in the development of the programme. Mothers are supposed to be motivated in the following ways

  • Preference would be given to women when it comes to hiring cooks-cum-helpers
  • Mothers would be trained on how to keep a watch on the preparation of food
  • Making mothers aware that if they engage in the programme, they can ensure good quality food for their children and that too regularly
  • Making mothers aware of their important contribution in overseeing the cooking and serving of meals under the programme
  • Creating formal ways for maintaining rosters wherein mothers can take turns in keeping a watch on the meal preparations
  • Getting feedbacks and suggestions from mothers on strategies which would help in making the program stronger and more effective. Moreover, suggestions can also be taken for increasing community participation and for increasing other value-added services along with free meals.

Tithi Bhojan under the Mid-day Meal Scheme

The concept of Tithi Bhojan is a new one which has been launched by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. This initiative is also meant to increase community participation under the Mid-day Meal programme. However, rather than encouraging the mothers of the children covered under the scheme, Tithi Bhojan aims to include members of community to participate and contribute towards the Mid-day Meal Scheme. The concept of Tithi Bhojan was first implemented in Gujarat and thereafter it was popularised in all Indian states. The concept aims to target members of the community to voluntarily contribute to the Mid-Day Meal Programme. Contribution can be made in the form of kitchen utensils or food itself on any special festivals or occasions. Moreover, interested members can also provide supplementary meals to children like snacks, sweets, sprouts, etc. in addition to what are children are already being served. Religious and charitable institutions are also being encouraged to participate in the Tithi Bhojan scheme so that children can get better meals.

Change in the Mid-day Meal scheme from 2015

New rules were notified under the scheme in September 2015 and the following changes have been implemented as per the provisions of the new rules

  • Schools are allowed to use other available funds for mid-day meal schemes on a temporary basis if the funds allowed by the Government are exhausted
  • If the meals are not supplied for any reason, the children should be allowed a Food Security Allowance
  • Accredited labs would test the quality of meals randomly on a monthly basis.


  • Do all schools have the mid-day meal scheme?

No, only the eligible schools and institutions catering to economically weaker children have the mid-day meal scheme.

  • Does the Government pay for the entire cost of the meals?

The Government pays for a specific amount of cost. The actual cost might be higher or lower than that paid by the Government.

  • Can schools provide more than the quantum of meal specified under the scheme?

Yes, schools can provide more than the specified meals. However, Government assistance would be available only for the specified quantum of food and any excess cost would have to be borne by the school itself.

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