Another meeting of the committee will take place this month but a date has not been finalised yet
A central committee set up in 2021 to review the daily cooking cost of mid-day meals served under the PM-Poshan scheme, has not yet come up with the new costing norms. This is despite record high inflation in food products.
The committee met in April but did not take a decision towards revising the costs, government sources said. This was despite schools finding it difficult to effectively run mid-day meal programmes in India, due to a rise in prices of vegetables, oils and pulses.
The last revision was done in May 2020, when it was increased from Rs 4.48 to Rs 4.97 per student per school day for primary (Classes 1-5) and Rs 6.71 to Rs 7.45 for upper primary (Classes 6-8). Ideally, the central government is supposed to revise cooking cost annually, to offset the impact of inflation on food items.
“For two years, the schools were closed due to the pandemic so the cost was not revised but now the committee is considering it,” a government official said.
States like West Bengal that provide eggs to children, have already decreased the egg distribution to once a week, as against the earlier twice a week.
The committee was set up in September 2021 by the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL) on the recommendations of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. It includes officials from DoSEL, the finance ministry and labour bureau, along with independent nutrition experts.
Another meeting of the committee will take place this month but a date has not been finalised yet.
Cooking cost of the mid-day meal is the largest component of the programme and includes the prices of ingredients like vegetables, oils, pulses, salt and other condiments and fuel needed to cook the meal.
The Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman was earlier called the mid-day meal scheme. It is a centrally-sponsored scheme to address hunger and education and improving the nutritional status of children by providing one hot cooked meal in schools.
It covers all school children studying in Classes 1-8 of government and government-aided schools. The nutritional norm per child per day is 450 calories and 12 grams protein for primary class students and 700 calories and 20 grams protein for upper primary class students.
However, school authorities have been complaining how they have not been able to meet the nutritional standards due to a rise in the cost of food items and they hope that the government revises the costing norms before schools open in June after the summer vacations that started this week.
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