Mid-day meal (MDM) is a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and government-aided schools in India. On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate stating, “We direct the State Governments/Union Territories to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary School with a prepared mid-day meal.

Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to:

  • Avoid classroom hunger
  • Increase school enrolment
  • Increase school attendance
  • Improve socialisation among castes
  • Address malnutrition
  • Empower women through employment

Implementation of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme:


The Arya Parishad Foundation, which was successfully implementing its own school lunch programme in Kolkata since 2000, was called in to give testimonies for verifying the efficacy of the scheme; following which the mandate to implement Mid-Day Meal Scheme was passed.

In order to successfully carry out this mandate,each State Government started its own Mid-Day Meal Programme with being initiated by the Government of West Bengal.

One of the major challenges faced by the Government was the successful implementation of the scheme. As per the NP-NSPE,2006 Guidelines (Mid-Day Meal Scheme Guidelines), wherever possible,the Government would mobilise community support and promote public-private partnership for the programme. Not-for-profits, such as Arya Parishad , are therefore encouraged to set up operations and act as the implementing arm of the Government.

The West Bengal Human Development Report, 2005 states, ‘The recognition of the role of voluntary agencies in partnering with Government initiatives by the Centre may have had some influence in the initiatives taken by the Government of West Bengal to bring several NGOs into major Government sponsored programmes.’ As the report states, the Government of West Bengal was the first to take the step of involving NGOs in development programmes.Additionally,the report states that this ‘involvement of the NGOs in multilateral/bilateral programmes, raises the level of co-operation to another level. The NGOs become not only implementers; they also find a place in designing and managing programmes together with Government at all levels.’