Prepared food not to be distributed under mid-day meal scheme

Prepared food not to be distributed under mid-day meal scheme

Replying to questions in Rajya Sabha, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said it was not true that the mid-day meal scheme has not been successful.

Several independent evaluations including by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and UNICEF have pointed to the benefits of the scheme, he said adding it was doing exceptionally well in Andhra Pradesh.

While the Centre provides funds, the responsibility of implementation of the scheme rested with the state governments, he said.

Asked if the Government was considering giving packed food instead of cooking meals at the schools in view of reports of poor quality and contaminated food being served, he said "no."

The Government has mandated that food should be cooked in permanent tin shades and not stored in classrooms, he said adding cooks and helpers are being employed so that teachers are relieved of the responsibility of overseeing cooking.

One cook and one helper is provided if a class has 25 students. Their number is doubled in case the number of students up to 100 and one extra cook is provided in case of students are more than 100.

Stating that 8.55 lakh permanent tin shades for cooking food have been constructed, Sibal said provision of kitchen utensils has also been made.

Sibal said the performance audit report of the CAG for 2002-07 observed a delay of up to ten months in release of funds towards cooking cost.

The report had also stated that in schools of 19 states and UTs, mid-day meal was being prepared in the open or in classrooms and instances of foodgrains being stored in the classrooms were noticed in 11 states/UTs.

Sibal said cooking cost excluding labour and administrative charges has been revised from Rs 1.68 to Rs 2.50 per child per day for primary children and from Rs 2.20 to Rs 3.75 per child per day for upper primary children.

A separate component for payment of honorarium of Rs 1000 per month to cook-cum-helper has been provided, he added.