The National Programme for Mid-Day Meal in School popularly knows as Mid-Day Meal Scheme has been renamed as PM Poshan Shati Nirman Scheme. In its new form, the scheme will be offering hot cooked meals to pre-primary classes or Balvatikas as well. It was earlier limited to students of classes 1 to 8. This is expected to benefit about 11.80 crore children studying in 11.20 lakh schools.
Several other changes have been incorporated into the scheme including involvement of local women, encouraging gardening, cooking competition, focusing on ensuring micro-nutrients for school children especially anaemic kids.
“The government of India will bear Rs 99,061.73 crore, including the cost of food grains for PM POSHAN over five years. Introduction of Tithi Bhojan, social audit, school nutrition gardens, and several other measures will help in the effective implementation of the scheme and boost learning, and nutrition outcomes,” said Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
The government is also considering developing nutrition gardens on school campuses with active participation from students. More than 3 lakh schools already have nutrition gardens. The gardens are being provided to offer additional micro-nutrients to students. Special provision is also made for providing supplementary nutrition items to children in aspirational districts and districts with a high prevalence of anaemia.
Under the scheme, cooking competitions will be encouraged at all levels right from the village level to the national level to promote ethnic cuisines and innovative menus based on locally available ingredients.
The Cabinet has approved the continuation of the national scheme for five years with a financial outlay of Rs 54061.73 crores from the central government and Rs 31,733.17 crore from state governments. The central government will also bear the additional cost of Rs 45000 crore on food grains. Taking the total scheme budget to Rs 1,30,794.90 crore.
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