National Food Security Bill clause on Midday Meal meets HRD ministry disagreement

Akshaya Mukul TNN 

New Delhi: The HRD ministry has disagreed with key provisions of the National Food Security Bill relating to the use of midday meal (MDM) infrastructure for the destitute as well as providing midday meals during natural or man-made disasters. It is also against the idea of giving MDM in all schools during vacations. 
    The ministry says that while it supports the view that the destitute, elderly and the vulnerable need to be well looked after, and their nutritional needs be met, the “organizational and logistic arrangements for MDM for these categories is beyond the mandate given to the school department”. It said that if destitute persons, elderly, single women and disabled are to be brought within the ambit of the scheme, then the kitchen-cum-store will have to be
located outside the school premises to avoid loss of teaching and learning time. The ministry has suggested that the destitute be served in “destitute homes, as is the practice in Tamil Nadu, or in anganwadis/Integrated ChildDevelopment Scheme centres, as is the case in Orissa, so that there is no loss of teaching time”. 

    As regards the recommendation to provide MDM during natural or man-made disasters, the ministry said in such situations relief camps are set up to provide food to affected families. “Separating children from their families in such situations to provide MDM in schools would only add to the trauma and anxiety faced by the families, and is therefore not recommended,” it said. 
    However, the ministry said the ongoing scheme of MDM during summer vacations in drought-prone areas will continue. It also did not agree with the provision that MDM be provided during vacations in all schools. It said the provision is logistically not viable as the staff associated with implementing MDM are not available during the vacation period. It said the service conditions for teachers are fixed by state governments and it would be impossible for the central government to prescribe changes in them to enable MDM during school vacations.


The ministry said midday meals to destitutes could result in loss of teaching time