The existing Mid-Day Meal scheme, which provides hot meals to students, has been renamed as the PM Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme.
Key propositions in the PM Poshan Shakti Nirman
- PM Poshan Shakti Nirman aims to cover 11.80 crore children in 11.20 lakh schools.
- All school-going students of classes I to VIII, studying in government and government-aided schools, are eligible to avail the benefits of the scheme.
- The new scheme has a provision for supplementary nutrition for children in aspirational districts and those with high prevalence of anaemia.
- Primary (1-5) and upper primary (6-8) schoolchildren are currently entitled to 100 grams and 150 grams of food grains per working day each, to ensure a minimum of 700 calories.
- It essentially does away with the restriction on the part of the Centre to provide funds only for wheat, rice, pulses and vegetables.
- Currently, if a state decides to add any component like milk or eggs to the menu, the Centre does not bear the additional cost. Now that restriction has been lifted.
- They will be developed in schools to give children “firsthand experience with nature and gardening”.
- To promote vocal for local, women self-help groups and farmer producer organisations will be encouraged to provide a fillip to locally grown traditional food items.
- The scheme also plans “inspection” by students of colleges and universities for ground-level execution.
- Communities would also be encouraged to provide the children food at festivals etc, while cooking festivals to encourage local cuisines are also envisaged.
- In other procedural changes meant to promote transparency and reduce leakages,
- States will be asked to do direct benefit cash transfers of cooking costs to individual school accounts, and honorarium amounts to the bank accounts of cooks and helpers.
- The rebranded scheme aims to focus on “holistic nutrition” goals. Use of locally grown traditional foods will be encouraged, along with school nutrition gardens.
- Social audits have been made mandatory in all districts and college students and trainee teachers will be roped in to do field inspections to ensure the quality of meals.
Expected Benefits of PM Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme
- Tackle Malnutrition among school going children
- Achieve Right to Food and SDGs
- Encourage FPOs and Women SHGs
- Help the Aspirational and Tribal Districts
- Promotion of ethnic cuisines and culture:
- Livelihood Generation and Awareness among students
- Promote transparency and reduce leakages
Possible Challenges of PM Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme
- Poor Quality of Food
- No increase in monthly honorarium to Cooks
- Need of including Breakfast in Mid Day meal has been ignored
- Heavy funding Crunch
- Distraction from studies
Source: Indian Express
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