In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister for Human Resource and Development, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ highlighted on the initiatives Government has taken to monitor quality food under Mid-Day-Meal Scheme. He informed that Government has adopted an elaborate monitoring mechanism at Central, State and District levels to ensure quality food is served to children under the Scheme (Mid-day meal).
At national level, an empowered committee, headed by Minister of Human Resource Development, National level Steering-cum-Monitoring Committee (NSMC) and Programme Approval Board (PAB) monitor the scheme and suggest measures for its smooth and effective implementation.
Monitoring at different levels
At state level, a State level Steering–cum-Monitoring Committee headed by the State Chief Secretary and, at the district level, a District Level Committee under the Chairpersonship of the senior-most Member of Parliament of Lok Sabha of the district monitors the implementation of the scheme in the concerned District. At local level Gram Panchayats/Gram Sabhas, members of Village Education Committees (VECs), Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and the School Management Committees (SMCs) monitor the regularity and wholesomeness of the mid-day meal served to children.
They keep a track on cleanliness in cooking and serving of the meal, timeliness in procurement of good quality ingredients, fuel, etc. Further, they ensure implementation of variety in menu so as to make it attractive to children and ensuring social and gender equity on a daily basis.
In addition to directing States and UTs to carry out social audit, the Centre constitutes Joint Review Missions (JRMs) consisting of educational and nutritional experts review the scheme through field visits from time to time. The reports of JRMs are shared with concerned States and UTs for taking suitable action on the findings.
The Government of India has issued guidelines on quality, safety and hygiene in school level kitchens to all the States and UTs in order to meet the nutritional standards. As per the government guidelines nutritional standard includes 450 calories and 12 gms of protein to children in primary classes and 700 calories and 20 gms of protein to children in upper primary classes. These guidelines inter-alia provide for instructions to schools to procure Agmark quality and branded items for preparation of mid day meals. Further, tasting of meals by 2-3 adult members of School Management Committee including at least one teacher before serving to children is also mentioned in the guidelines. This is to put in place a system of testing of food samples by accredited laboratories.
Further, the MDM Rules, 2015 provide for mandatory testing of food samples by Government recognized laboratories to ensure that the meals meet nutritional standards and quality.