Yesterday, we were shooting near a school in a village at Vaitharna, Maharashtra. I've known about the mid-day meal program but always wondered about the quality of the food provided. Given the extent of poverty in our country, and the huge population that this program caters to, I was pretty satisfied...the quantity and quality of rice and dal was good. Veggies would have added to the balance in the diet, but I learnt that the menu is different on different days. The sight of kids volunteering to serve and eat together was very endearing.
The Mid-day Meal Scheme is the popular name for school meal programme in India. It involves provision of lunch free of cost to school-children on all working days. The key objectives of the programme are: protecting children from classroom hunger, increasing school enrolment and attendance, improved socialisation among children belonging to all castes, addressing malnutrition, and social empowerment through provision of employment to women. 12 crore (120 million) children are so far covered under the Mid-day Meal Scheme, which is the largest school lunch programme in the world. Allocation for this programme had been enhanced from Rs 3010 crore to Rs 4813 crore in 2006-2007. From today, i.e. 1 Jan, 2010, the government has decided to take steps for further improvement of the mid-day meal.