More than 9.5 crore students have been provided Food Security Allowance (FSA) instead of cooked mid-day meal throughout pandemic from March to August 2020, according to the government.
Responding to a query during the monsoon session in the Parliament, the Ministry of Education informed Lok Sabha that over 9.5 crore students were provided with Food Security Allowance (FSA) across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the imposition of the lockdown in the month of March, schools were closed and children missing out on mid-day meals was one of the major concerns, the states were advised to extend the support in kind.
Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that the state governments have been providing FSA, which includes financial aid, food grains, pulses, oil and other cooking ingredients, in place of the mid-day meals.
"It is not possible to provide hot cooked meal under the prevailing circumstances, owing to COVID-19, State Government and UT Administrations are advised to provide Food Security Allowance (FSA) comprising of food grains, pulses, oil etc (equivalent to cooking cost) to all eligible children till such time their schools are closed due to aforesaid pandemic,' Mr Pokhriyal said.
According to the data shared by the ministry, the Uttar Pradesh government has provided an allowance to 1.13 crore students. West Bengal and Bihar have disbursed the allowance to 1.12 crore students and Bihar for 1.08 crore students, respectively.
Maharashtra provided the meal allowance to nearly 8 million students, whereas Madhya Pradesh provided FSA to over 6 million students.
Rajasthan is providing food grains only. Telangana is providing food kits of 12 kg rice per person and Rs. 1,500 per family to BPL families whereas the Telangana authorities is offering meals kits of 12 kg rice per person and Rs 1,500 per household to BPL households.