Breakfast in school proposal worth Rs 4,000 crore on agenda ahead of Budget session: Report
This comes after a National Family Health Survey (NFHS) found “alarming decrease in children’s nutrition levels over 2015-2019 period” and 18 states reported increase in number of stunted, waster or underweight children under the age of 5,
January 07, 2021 / 02:25 PM IST
Schoolchildren eat their free mid-day meal, distributed by a government-run primary school in Chapra district (Representative Image: Reuters)
The Centre is preparing an Rs 4,000 crore proposal to provide breakfast along with mid-day meals in government schools, before the Cabinet in January.
The proposal will be put forth for consideration ahead of the Budget session so that decision on implementation can take place before the new academic year, The Economic Times reported.
The Education Ministry is yet to finalise a menu, but options will be wide, a source told the paper the decision on what to include for breakfast will be “largely left up to states keeping in mind local palates and diet,” but nutrition levels and general diet recommendation will be informed based on data from the National Institute of Nutrition.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
The source added that the Ministry has also proposed that expenditure of the meals will be linked to food costs and inflation so as to maintain quality and nutrition levels.
The move comes after a National Family Health Survey (NFHS) found “alarming decrease in children’s nutrition levels over 2015-2019 period” and 18 states reported an increase in the number of stunted, wasted or underweight children under the age of 5, the report said.
The proposal has also received “strong backing” from the National Policy on Education (NEP) 2020, which linked optimal learning to proper nutrition and cited research showing the morning hours after breakfast are particularly productive for study of demanding subjects.
It further suggests that in places where hot breakfast would be difficult to provide nutritious meals such as groundnuts or chana mixed with jaggery or local fruits can be alternatives.
Studies in general have shown that children often come to school on an empty stomach which leads to chronic malnutrition that cannot be addressed by one hot cooked meal in the afternoon.
The Department of School Education had in 2020 sought special funding of Rs 115,392 crore from the 15th Finance Commission for including pre-primary children in the mid-day meal scheme, and it is expected that the Commission will also back the breakfast proposal.