“It has been suggested to the States and the UTs that these guidelines may be circulated to districts, blocks, gram panchayats, self-help groups for compliance of these guidelines under MDM,” said the statement from the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Tithi Bhojan is a community participation programme that was first initiated by the Gujarat State Education Department. Under this programme, community provides full meal or additional items on special occasions, birthdays, marriages, anniversaries, days of national importance and other festivals, etc.
Tithi Bhojan has been adopted by the States & UTs of Assam (Sampriti Bhojan), Andhra Pradesh, Punjab (Priti bhojan), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (Tithi Bhojan), Daman & Diu (Tithi Bhojan), Karnataka (Shalegagi Naavu Neevu), Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra (Sneh Bhojan), Chandigarh (Tithi Bhojan), Puducherry (Anna Dhanam), Haryana (Beti ka Janamdin) and Uttarakhand (Tithi Bhojan).
Benefits, as identified by the Ministry of HRD, are that it brings sense of belonging in the community. “This supplements the nutritional value of mid-day meal food and encourages development of rapport with the local community. The scheme is believed to inculcate the feeling of equity among the children of all communities,” said the Ministry.
The guidelines say that the food articles should be as per food habits of the children of the region. There should be combination of cereal, pulses and vegetables may be provided in case of full meal.
“A list of food items preferred by children may also be prepared and shared with the concerned interested community people for future use to ensure maximum satisfaction of the children,” as per the guidelines.
Record of category-wise items shall be maintained. Any savings from MDM due to tithi bhojan provided by donors etc. shall be properly recorded and accounted for.
Another feature is that the donors may be honoured or given recognition by the school during School Management Committee (SMC) meetings or annual functions of the school with the community to encourage the practice.
Donation in kind may also be accepted such as water filters, water coolers, fans, etc. Though in Gujarat, where the concept was first introduced, cash/cheque donations were not accepted.
There are guidelines on major food safety measures such as providing freshly prepared food items after checking expiry date in case of any packed items. The food items should contain adequate nutrients and should be palatable, hygienic, and operationally feasible.
Among other things, the guidelines state that perishable items should not be stored in plastic bags as food gets spoilt quickly due to lack of transpiration. Such items have to be stored away from sunlight, in a cool place.
The teachers, SMC members, cook-cum-helpers should consume the food first before serving it to the children.