Handling classroom hunger : comparing modes of mid-day meal delivery in Anekal block, Karnataka

Seshadri, Shreelata Rao and B. S., Rishikesh and Prasad, Prateeti and Patil, Sheetal (2020) Handling classroom hunger : comparing modes of mid-day meal delivery in Anekal block, Karnataka. Working Paper. Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.

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: The Mid-Day Meal (MDM) is an important nutrition-specific intervention of the Government of India, providing a specified quantum of food and calories for children in primary schools across the country. The New Education Policy (2020) reiterates the importance of ensuring that childhood flourishing is not impeded by classroom hunger. There are currently several models for providing the MDM in schools – either through kitchens established within the schools or through an external agency (NGO). The study aimed to evaluate the impact of a quality-controlled mid-day meal program from a centralized kitchen on children’s nutritional indicators and learning outcomes, in comparison to the standard meal provided by government/NGOs. In addition, the study looked at household characteristics of students to determine their impact on children’s nutritional outcomes. The study was conducted in Anekal block in Bangalore district, Karnataka, and looked at the difference in nutritional outcomes of children in schools where the MDM was a) cooked within the school; b) provided by Akshay Patra, and c) provided by an alternate NGO. Anthropometric measures were taken of children in 16 government schools, as well as their learning outcomes in Kannada and Mathematics. In addition, household characteristics were recorded. The findings show that children in primary school are at nutritional risk, and MDM is a key intervention that can make a material difference. Ensuring that this meal is wholesome, nutritious and adequate is critical. Of the three sources of MDM studied, students in schools supplied by Akshay Patra were found to be statistically significantly better off in terms of standard anthropometric measures. Taste and hygiene are important determinants of whether children eat the MDM. A simple regression analysis of children’s/household characteristics and BMI revealed the following significant coefficients at the .05 level: gender, type of kitchen (Akshay Patra), age of the child, mother’s weight, availability of ration card and consumption of green, leafy vegetables by the index child. Regarding the relationship between nutritional status and learning outcomes, the data did not show any correlation between learning outcomes and BMI status in any of the groups by gender or class. India’s mid-day meal scheme is the largest scheme of its type globally. To reap its full benefit, the government needs to focus on improving its quality and nutritional value, and thereby enhance its impact. In addition, the outreach of nutritional support programs that enhance household availability of food, such as the Public Distribution System, should be expanded. The paper also argues for better management of schools: our data show a strong relationship between learning outcomes and overall school management; and demonstrates that it has implications for the MDM delivery model selected by the school. This reinforces the importance of putting more resources towards strengthening school management capacity, for the positive impacts on both nutritional and learning outcomes.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Authors: Seshadri, Shreelata Rao and B. S., Rishikesh and Prasad, Prateeti and Patil, Sheetal
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Akshay Patra, childhood nutrition, learning outcomes, classroom hunger.
Subjects: Social sciences > Education
Divisions: Azim Premji University > University Publications > Working Paper
Full Text Status: Public
URI: http://publications.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/id/eprint/2448
Publisher URL: https://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/SitePages/pdf/...

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