Meals at Schools in India and the USA
Through the Lens of the Covid-19 Pandemic
For the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging for India and other countries such as the United States to provide meals to students mainly because of their schools having to be shut down frequently and unpredictably due to the number of daily infections and the severity of the situation as a whole. Established to address the lack of food security and safety for starving families, India's government-led Mid-day Meal Programme (MDMP) is the world's largest school meal service programme, followed in second place by its US counterpart, the National School Lunch Programme (NSLP). The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has issued directives to state governments to look into the supply of food grains or deposit funds into the bank accounts of the students’ parents to ensure continued supply of food, especially in the event of lockdowns. However, many states in India have not been able to fully implement the MDMP; in contrast, the Federal government in the United States has ensured that school meals reached children in need during lockdowns. This article presents a comparative analysis of the meal service programmes being administered in both countries and how India could adopt the methods being used in the US. The authors also put forward other possible solutions as to how policymakers and practitioners in India can enhance food security for families in need.