Following the Mid-Day Meal Money Trail (Part II)

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In the previous section we discussed the budget allocation of India’s mid-day meal programme on a macro level. In this post we will analyse how the overall budget for the scheme gets allocated to certain micro expenditures like cooking costs, food grains, honorarium to cooks-cum-helpers (CCH) and the remaining to transportation and monitoring, management and evaluation (MME).

Let’s take a look at the allocation and expenditure of the programme according to these parameters:

Cooking Costs:
This requires the largest expenditure out of the MDM budget as it includes spending on a range of ingredients and condiments the scheme needs to succeed.  In Financial Year 2011-12, the budgeted amount for cooking costs was 53 per cent of the total MDM budget for that year.

In 2012 the minimum allocation of cooking cost per primary school child was fixed at Rs 3.11 per day and that of every upper primary child was at Rs 4.65 per day. As of July 2013, this number was revised to Rs 3.34 for primary school children and Rs 5.00 for upper primary children every day. At this time, the scheme was also provided with additional funds on account of the withdrawal of subsidies on LPG for the year 2013-14, with this amount being divided in the ratio of 75:25 by the Centre and States and 90:10 in North-Eastern states.

The expenditure performance of the programme is also closely monitored. To ensure proper execution of the programme, The Government of India regulations state that at least 75 per cent of the allocated cooking costs in each state should be utilised by the third quarter of every financial year.

Food Grains:
This forms the third largest budget allocation of the mid-day meal programme. These allocations are decided upon after the states put forward their projections for the coming year in the Project Approval Board (PAB) documents. These numbers are calculated based on the number of school days in the year along with the estimated number of enrolled children the state will have to feed. In monitoring the food grain expenditure, the Government has stipulated that at least 85 per cent of the total annual food grain has to be available by the third quarter of the financial year.

However this amount of food grains is dependent on the total stock available with the state. This could be influenced by whether the state has unutilised grain left over from previous years as well.

The allocation of food grains for the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2014-15 have been released by the Government of India. Below is a representation of the total allocation of food grains for the first quarter, in the nine states in which The Akshaya Patra Foundation serves the mid-day meal.


Honorarium to cook-cum-helpers:
Each cook-cum-helper is entitled to an amount of Rs 1,000 every month. The states however vary in their utilisation of their budget allocation and the total number of posts filled.

Aside from this, the mid-day meal scheme also incurs costs during transportation and monitoring, management and evaluation (MME) of the programme.

As we can see the mid-day meal programme is a synthesis of various processes and expenditures, on a scale that is almost unimaginable. Today feeding over 114 million children in India, the programme has been conceived of and executed in a way that it tackles the pervasive issue of childhood hunger in India in a way that is positive, sustainable and commendable.

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