#COVID-19: How are States ensuring midday meals?
Updated: Mar 26
With the Covid-19 virus causing schools throughout India to shut down and with no relief in sight anytime soon, the Supreme Court has taken a suo moto cognisance of the non-availability of midday meals (MDM) for students. The Union ministry has asked States and UTs to provide hot cooked mid-day meals or a food security allowance to all eligible students during school closures.
Midday meals are meant to be provided to all primary and upper primary students in government, government aided and local body schools, several other school types under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan as well as National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Schools run by Ministry of Labour. According to the MHRD, more than 9 crore students benefit from the MDM scheme.
In a rapid research undertaking, EPIB has mapped the strategies of different States. However, the situation is changing daily, hence information might be outdated. Nonetheless, it seems useful to have an overview of the various strategies.
We will try to update this post from time to time. If you find any errors, information on missing States/UTs or any updated information, please send us a message.
Sources used include public newspaper reports and government orders.
Bihar has opted for transferring money to bank accounts via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). According to a report, only those children present on the day before the closure (i.e. 13th March) or before the teacher strike in strike-affected schools will receive the money. Transfers are Rs 114.21 for class I to V (primary) and Rs. 171.17 for class VI to VIII (upper primary). This is the amount for 15 days of midday meals. The order can be found here.
Kerala has opted for home delivery of meal supplies.
Uttar Pradesh has announced a Rs 1,000 financial assistance for daily wage labourers. Although not MDM specific, this would target many of the parents of government school students.
West Bengal has asked teachers to come to schools on 21. and 22. March to make arrangements for the home distribution of MDMs, stirring a controversy as this overlapped with the "Janta Curfew" announced by the Prime Minister.
Karnataka has announced to deliver foodgrains for 21 days to homes.
Haryana has ordered teachers to deliver mid-day meal rations and cooking costs to eligible students in 17 Districts of the State. This sparked protests by teachers who pointed out that people are eoncouraged to stay at home to avoid any spread of the virus. The distribution will consist of sealed packets of 770gm wheat and 630gm rice to primary students (each) and 1,155gm wheat and 945gm rice to upper primary students.
Assam seems not to have released an official order, but a report quotes a source saying that "either the student or the parents may collect the ration or the cook and helpers will visit the students homes’ and distribute the ration". A source in the same report said that the "district administration will be empowered to decide the mechanism of distribution according to their convenience to ease the process".
Chattisgarh's CM has announced: "The mid-day meal will be provided to the parents for the next 40 days. Each child of primary school will be provided 4kg of rice grain and 800 grams of pulses while 6kg of rice and 1200 grams of lentils will be supplied to each child of higher secondary school".
Maharashtra is considering to provide MDMs only to rural children according to a report.
Nagaland has decided that "excess quantity of unutilised food grains available will be distributed in equal quantity to all the eligible children till class VIII" according to a report. The "school authority may invite the parents of the students to come to the school and collect food grains by taking precautions to avoid gathering or crowding as per the government directive" claims the same report.
Punjab seems to consider to either provide mid-day meals to students at homes or, alternatively, putting money into their accounts as stated in this report.
Uttarakhand has announced to switch to DBT to provide the amount for 14 days as reported here.
UPDATE 26. March 2020
Assam is providing mid day meals to 40 lakh students at home according to this report.
Andhra Pradesh is providing dry rations to 37 lakh students consisting of rice, egg, and chikkies (jaggery and groundnut cakes) up to March 31 according to this report.
Jammu and Kashmir: according to news reports from Doda District, dry rations are distributed to doorsteps of students.
Disclaimer: Some of the above information might be outdated or inaccurate. We rely on third party information. Please inform us about any errors.
Policy recommendation for Bihar
Bihar should rethink its approach to rely on Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs) and consider distributions through the Public Distribution System (PDS) or other channels. If possible, soaps should be added to the rations. Banks are often far in rural areas. The lockdown might further restrict local transport.