Mewat Mondays: The Mid-Day Meal Scheme

If you’re just a child living in rural Mewat, what is the one thing that may entice you to come to school instead of working in the fields or staying home to look after younger siblings? The answer is a plate full of cooked food, provided free of charge thanks to the government, under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

Since 1997-8, the scheme provides food to children in all government schools throughout India. In the beginning, it provided 100 grams of grain per child per school day, and subsidised the transport costs. In September 2004, the scheme was revised to provide cooked meals with 300 calories and 8-12g of protein per child, higher transport subsidies, and funds to cover the cooking costs.

The key objectives of the scheme are to address malnutrition, encourage higher attendance, improve children’s concentration in class, and empower women through the employment provided by the scheme.

But what does the scheme look like on the ground? We visited several schools in the Nuh district of Mewat, where the Foundation intervenes in, to find out. 

In schools like Rojka-Meo, there is no proper kitchen shed, so the cook prepares food in the corridor.

In schools like Rojka-Meo, there is no proper kitchen shed, so the cook prepares food in the corridor.

At about 12.30PM, children take a break from classes and queue up with their plates. As there is manpower shortage, teachers pitch in and help to serve the food.

At about 12.30PM, children take a break from classes and queue up with their plates. As there is manpower shortage, teachers pitch in and help to serve the food.

They eat while crouching on the ground outside, because there are no dining facilities.

They eat while crouching on the ground outside, because there are no dining facilities.

Nevertheless, they are happy to receive a simple meal every day.

Nevertheless, they are happy to receive a simple meal every day.

When they are done, they wash after themselves. In Rehna, there is no tap, leading to water wastage.

When they are done, they wash after themselves. In Rehna, there is no tap, leading to water wastage.

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is a great initiative by the government that has provided employment opportunities to women in the villages, and most importantly, assured that children in these poor rural areas don’t go hungry as long as they are in school. It has also encouraged more children to continue schooling.

Unfortunately, there exist some limitations in the implementation of the scheme in Mewat. Some schools have insufficient utensils, most have no proper kitchen sheds for cooking, all have no dining facilities, and some children take advantage of the scheme by showing up only for the meal before running off again.

Some kids have their porridge on paper, when there aren’t enough utensils.

Some kids have their porridge on paper, when there aren’t enough utensils.

With the Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP), we try to tackle this resource gap, and develop the schools in a holistic manner that will encourage all children in the villages we work with to attend school and enjoy their Right to Education.

If you would like to join hands and help our cause, email info@srf-foundation.org for more information.

Mewat Mondays is brought to you by our interns, Aisyah and Rafidah, who felt the joy of simple meals, when they recently visited Mewat. As part of their field research, they will be spending time in some of the 19 villages, and will gladly share pictures and anecdotes from these experiences. Reach them at siti.mohd@srf.com and rafidah.razak@srf.com respectively.

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Filed under Mewat Mondays, Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP), Uncategorized

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