The Mid Day Meal scheme was started in India in the year 1995 to combat classroom hunger and promote better learning. As per the 2017-2018 statistics, over nine crore children from over eleven lakh schools are covered by the scheme. In a bid to further the impact of this scheme, the Ministry of Humay Resource and Development (MHRD) has decided to set up kitchen gardens in around ten lakh government and government aided schools throughout the country.
The proposed idea is already being followed in certain states but there are set guidelines that can be followed for implementing such a move. For instance, thestate of Uttar Pradesh, had initiated this step in 2018 and under the scheme it was decided that Moringa trees would be planted. Moringa is one plant which is entirely edible. However it could be implemented in full as the initiative soon started to face departmental issues.
The MHRD has planned to allocate separate funding for such kitchen gardens. Some minor steps, such as planning foods based on preferred choice and availability of staple grains or vegetables, were also taken some time back to make the scheme more child centric.
Under the current proposed plan, it is believed that not only kitchen gadgets would help provide a child with nutritious and healthy food but also let them engage in such extracurricular activities that are self enriching by their very nature.
Also called the School Nutrition Garden, the central government has decided to provide an assistance of Rs. 5,000 to every school that is being coveredunder the scheme. The two key objectives of the School Nutrition Garden are one, it would help resolve the problem of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in children; two, it would bring young children closer to nature and gardening.
Recently the MHRD approved a grant of Rs.1 lakh for setting up or maintenance of School Nutrition Gardens in twenty government schools in Chandigarh. Currently out of one twenty three schools, thirty schools already gave kitchen gardens. The objective of the program is to reach all school children up to class XIIth whether in rural area or in urban ones. The MHRD has asked Chandigarh to work in collaboration with Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Department of Agriculture/Horticulture, Food & Nutrition Board, UT agriculture universities, etc. for preparing a list of schools where kitchen gardens are to be set up.
We would love to hear your opinion and views on this in the comments below.