Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin launches free breakfast scheme for government school students

MK Stalin launched breakfast scheme for government school students from Classes 1 to 5 at Aadhimoolam Corporation Primary School.

MK Stalin with school students (Source: Official Twitter Account/@MK Stalin)MK Stalin with school students (Source: Official Twitter Account/@MK Stalin)

Press Trust of India | September 15, 2022 | 05:18 PM IST

MADURAI: The breakfast scheme for government school students from class 1 to 5 was launched here on Thursday by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and he served and had food with children. Inaugurating the programme, Stalin said the scheme would bring beneficial change in the lives of the poor people and billed the initiative as one that would earn a place in history.

Citing similar initiatives in the US and Europe, he said several studies have concluded such breakfast programmes led to improvement in learning skills and also their school attendance. The vision of iconic leaders, Periyar E V Ramasamy, C N Annadurai and M Karunanidhi was that nothing -be it povery or caste- should be an obstacle to access education, he said. Following in the footsteps of such leaders, Stalin said he experienced boundless joy when he is fulfilling their dreams.

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During the early 1900, when the Colonel Olcott School took shape in Chennai, it was social reformer Pandithar Iyothee Thassar who sowed the seeds for providing lunch to school children. In a first, the noon meal scheme was launched in 1922 in a Chennai Corporation school by Mayor Pitti Theagarayar, stalwart of the Justice Party, which was the precursor to the Dravidian movement, Stalin said. Months ahead of independence, the British regime had put the noon meal scheme on hold, citing financial constraints. In 1955, former Chief Minister K Kamaraj inaugurated the noon meal scheme, Stalin said and traced the evolution of the lunch scheme in Tamil Nadu from then onwards.

During inspection of government schools in Chennai, Stalin said he learnt that many children came to schools without having their breakfast. Considering such a scenario, he said students should not be taught when they were hungry and that is the reason for launching the breakfast scheme. "The expenditure is Rs 12.75 per child-per day and I am using the word spending in the administrative sense. Truly, this is not expenditure. This is our government's duty and my duty. I assure that all steps will be taken for phased extension of the scheme and its comprehensive implementation." Such programmes are neither "freebies" nor concession, this is the duty and responsibility of the government, he said.

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The key objectives of the scheme, provided free of cost to children, are prevention of hunger and nutritional deficiency, ensuring enhancement of nutrients besides easing the burden of working women. The scheme, that has an allocation of Rs 33.56 crore, will be implemented in a total of 1,545 schools benefitting 1,14,095 students across the state. This is the first phase.

The chief minister launched the scheme at the Aadhimoolam Corporation Primary School here by serving breakfast to children and he sat with them on the floor and had food along with them. Stalin inspected the central kitchen at Nelpettai here and flagged off vehicles carrying food to various schools. He released a souvenir tracing the food programmes implemented in government-run schools in Tamil Nadu for about a century and social activist Kamalathal received the first copy. The implementation of the scheme will be monitored by supervisory committees at the levels of state, district and school comprising officials of various government departments.

Tamil Nadu Ministers including Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi (School Education), E V Velu (Public Works) and K R Periyakaruppan (Rural Development), top officials and elected representatives took part. On 7 May 2022, on the occasion of completion of a year in office, Stalin had announced the scheme in Tamil Nadu Assembly. In Tamil, the scheme is named as "Mudalamaicharin Kalai Unavu Thittam (Chief Minister's Breakfast Scheme)."

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