Rules soon on food security aid to midday meal

Children to get foodgrain, cooking cost as per FSA

Rules soon on food security aid to midday meal

Schoolchildren may soon be entitled to supply of foodgrain along with cooking cost in case the midday meal is not served, with the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry finalising modalities for giving them food security allowance, mandatory under the Food Security Act.

At a national level consultation held by the ministry in Meghalaya recently on preparation of rules for granting food security allowance to midday beneficiaries, state governments “unanimously” agreed that in case of “non-supply” of meal continuously for three days or minimum of five days in a month, foodgrain should be given to the beneficiary by 15th of the next month, official sources said. 

The states were of the view that cooking cost should be deposited directly in the bank account of the beneficiaries or their parents in case the beneficiary does not have a bank account. The ministry is examining a suggestion to bring in a provision in the rules to deny food security allowance to a child if he or she refuses to take midday meal on being served.

It is also examining a proposal to penalise agencies responsible for preparation and serving of the midday meal for children in case the food gets spoiled due to any negligence. 

“At the meeting, it was suggested that if the food gets spoiled due to the negligence of implementing agency, the individual responsible for preparation and serving of midday meal should bear the cost of the meal to be paid to the beneficiary,” official sources said. 

Under the Food Security Act (FSA) notified in 2013, beneficiaries of integrated child development scheme (ICDS), midday meal scheme and targeted public distribution system (PDS) are entitled for food security allowance in case the food/foodgrain is not served to them under the three programmes.

“The rules for food security allowance are being formulated to ensure that children enjoy their right to food under the provisions of the FSA. The ministry will continue to work on its priority– that hot cooked meal is served to every child between the age of 6 to 15 in schools across the country,” official sources said.

The new rules will deal with situations when the midday meal could not be served in the schools due to reasons like non availability of foodgrain, fuel, cook-cum-helper or when food is spoiled, they said.

The ministry is examining the suggestions of the state that in order to avoid the interruption in the serving of hot and cooked midday meal at schools, the headmasters should be empowered to utilise the school funds available for procurement of ingredients for ingredients for cooking or hiring of cook-cum-helpers.

The draft rules, prepared by the HRD ministry, were earlier returned by the Ministry of Law and Justice as it had not specified modalities like the time and manner of the payment of food security allowance to the midday meal beneficiaries under the FSA.

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