Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Tamil Nadu’s CM Breakfast Scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CM Breakfast Scheme

Mains level : Mid-day meal program

This newscard talks for replicating Tamil Nadu’s CM breakfast scheme in other states.

CM’s Breakfast Scheme

  • The scheme covers around 1.14 lakh students in 1,545 schools which include 417 municipal corporation schools, 163 municipality schools and 728 taluk and village panchayat-level schools.
  • The inauguration of the scheme marks an important milestone in the State’s history of providing free meals to school students.

How has the idea evolved?

(a) Pre-independence

  • In November 1920, the Madras Corporation Council approved a proposal for providing tiffin to the students of a Corporation School at Thousand Lights at a cost not exceeding one anna per student per day.
  • Theagaraya Chetty, the then President of the Corporation and one of the stalwarts of the Justice Party, said the boys studying at the school were poor, which affected the strength of the institution ‘greatly’.
  • The scheme, which was extended to four more schools and facilitated higher enrollment of students.

(b) Post-independence

  • The concept saw a Statewide application in 1956 when the then CM K. Kamaraj decided to provide free noon meal to poor children in all primary schools across the State.
  • The Budget for 1956-57 contained a provision for supplying mid-day meals to schoolchildren for 200 days a year, initially covering 65,000 students in 1,300 feeding centres.
  • In July 1982, it was left to the then CM MG Ramachandran to extend the programme to children in the 2-5 age group in Anganwadis and those in 5-9 age group in primary schools in rural areas.
  • Subsequently, the scheme now called Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Nutritious Meal Programme — was extended to urban areas as well.
  • Since September 1984, students of standards VI to X have been covered under the scheme.

Beneficiaries of the programme

  • As of now, there are nearly 7 lakh beneficiaries spread over 43,190 nutritious meal centres.
  • This includes around 3,500 students of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) special schools.
  • Besides, as a consequence of the collaborative implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and the nutritious meal programme, around 15.8 lakh children in the age group of 2+ to 5+ years receive nutritious meals.

Impact on school education

  • Rise in enrolment: After the improved version of the mid-day meal scheme in 1982, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) at primary level (standards I to V) went up by 10% during July-September, 1982 as compared to the corresponding period in 1981.
  • Girls’ enrolment: The rise in boys’ enrollment was 12% and in the case of girls, 7%, according to a publication brought out by the Tamil Nadu government on the occasion of the launch of the Scheme.
  • Increase in attendance: Likewise, attendance during July-September 1982 rose by 33% over the previous year’s figure.

Focus areas programme

  • Anaemia is a major health problem in Tamil Nadu, especially among women and children, says the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5’s report.
  • From 50% during the period of the 2015-16 NFHS-4, the prevalence of anaemia in children now went up to 57%.
  • This and many other health issues can be addressed through the combined efforts of the departments of School Education, Public Health and Social Welfare and Women Empowerment.
  • Besides, a continuous and rigorous review of the progress of the scheme and nutritious meal programme should be carried out in a sustained manner.

Why it can be implemented in other states?

  • An interesting feature of this scheme is the cost-effective delivery of the service as it is complementary to the existing schemes.
  • Further, the income of the Anganwadi workers substantially increased on account of multiple roles played by them.
  • In the same way, the morning breakfast scheme makes use of the physical infrastructure (like cooking place and utensils) built for mid-day meals scheme.


  • In other words, with small additional expenditure, the government is able to provide substantial benefits to the children
  • The scheme must be extended to all the schools in the state.
  • Further, the scheme is worth replicating in other states in India.


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