How mid-day meal plays an important role in Government Schools

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is one of the most important interventions by Government of India to promote education. On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate stating, “We direct the State Governments/Union Territories to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary School with a prepared mid-day meal.” Hence, under this scheme, children of government school receive free and nutritious meals on school days. It has been observed that the Mid-Day Meal Scheme has had a significant impact on the nutritional and educational status of children. During 2016-17, 9.78-crore children from 11.40-lakh schools had benefited from this scheme.

mid-day meal benefits

The government encourages the participation of NGOs by providing ample support with the intention to multiply the mid-day meal benefits i.e.:

  • avoid classroom hunger
  • increase school enrolment
  • increase school attendance
  • improve socialisation among castes
  • address malnutrition
  • empower women through employment

Since NGOs work at the grass root level and the role of NGOs is very crucial in furthering the benefits of mid-day meal, the government has set certain criterions as per NP-NSPE guidelines to select a partner NGO. Only upon fulfilment of the criterions the NGO will be considered for government partnership and also receive aid from the government in the form of grants and subsidies. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one of the main mid-day meal NGOs in India that fulfil and adheres to the NP-NSPE guidelines. The NGO had begun implementing the mid-day meal programme in June 2000. And, after the Supreme Court’s mandate, it partnered with the government to continue the programme. This partnership was a welcome progression for the Foundation in providing nutritious meals and supporting the education of children.

Undeniably, school plays an important role in the socio-economic development of society. It is a place where children from various backgrounds mingle together promoting the culture of unity and brotherhood. The education they receive at school prepare them to achieve their goals and become successful in their lives. But, children of government schools mostly come from economically challenged backgrounds. So, even though education schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan are being implemented, the difficult financial conditions force these children to choose work over school. And, this is where the real potential of mid-day meal surfaces. Mid-day meal acts as an attractive incentive for parents to send their children to school with the sole hope that the young ones will receive at least one plate full of meal for the day. Thus, by giving the assurance of food, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme brings children to school, regularises attendance, checks drop-out rate, and helps children to receive the education they rightfully deserve.

Akshaya Patra is aware of the tangible and sustainable impact of mid-day meal. Hence, taking the onus, it conducts regular impact studies of its school lunch programme, the results of which are heartening. The several impact studies suggest that there has been a marked improvement in factors related to enrolment, attendance, health, and socialisation. To multiply this impact and bring more children under the purview of its school lunch programme, Akshaya Patra seeks supporting hands. And to make it easy for donors, it offers a quick and secure online platform. Through this platform, one can donate for the mid-day meal programme instantly from anywhere and at any time, with the provision of receiving tax exemption benefits too. It will be worth a step if you donate to charity. It will provide food and education to many deserving children while making you an important link in the chain of social development and national progress.

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50% Tax Exemption under Section 80G of Income Tax Act

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in addressing various socio-environmental issues such as illiteracy, hunger, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, climate change, pollution, and the like. The operational success of NGOs can be attributed to their focussed and strategized functioning towards a particular issue or a set of related issues. For instance, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, an NGO in India aims at countering the twin problem of hunger and illiteracy by providing mid-day meals to children at government schools. No matter what causes a particular NGO is focussing on, all NGOs create a platform and welcome the participation of all of us. And, one of the many ways to get involved with a cause is to offer charity.

tax exemption benefit

Aside from the satisfaction of doing a philanthropic act, offering charity can also benefit you financially. Yes, by donating towards an NGO you can avail tax exemption under 80G deduction. As a move to encourage people and business establishments to support various causes, the Government of India introduced Section 80G to give tax exemptions on donations made towards charitable organisations. However, you will be eligible to avail this tax benefit only if you are donating towards certified NGOs and charitable institutions. By certification, it means the NGO or Trust must have a 12A Certificate along with tax exemption status under Section 80G, Section 80 GGA, and Section 35AC (i & ii, i & iii) of the Income Tax Act of 1961.

The limit of deduction is either 50% or 100% of the donated sum depending on the charitable organisation you have chosen. This is in view of the segregation made by the Income Tax Department wherein certain Trusts and NGOs can offer 100% deductions to their donors and some can offer 50% deductions on the donated amount. Well, one such registered NGO in India that provides tax benefits for your donations is The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Akshaya Patra is a mid-meal NGO serving school lunch to children in government and government-aided school across 12 states of India.

  • The Foundation is registered as a not-for-profit organisation under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 (Reg. No. 154).
  • It is registered under Section 12A (a) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • The Foundation is also registered under Section 6 (1) (a) of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA Reg. No. 094421037).

As per the revised tax exemption act, effective 1 April 2017, donations above Rs. 500 to Akshaya Patra will be eligible for 50% tax exemption under Section 80G of Income Tax Act. But, you must note that a cash donation of above Rs. 2,000 is not applicable for 80G certificates. The benefits of 80G deduction are applicable only for Indian and NRI donors (Indian citizens, holding an Indian passport). To know about tax exemption for foreign donors, click here.

By contributing to Akshaya Patra, you will help in providing school lunch to millions of children who come socio-economic background. The school lunch helps such children to continue schooling by countering classroom hunger. The education and nourishment they receive through the Mid-Day Meal Programme empower them to grow up to be skilled and resourceful citizens of the nation. This means by donating towards the mid-day meal cause, you are supporting zealous, young lives thereby contributing to nation-building. And, simultaneously, you are also benefitting from income tax exemption, making it a win-win situation for the cause and you!

Well then, go ahead and begin the ripple effect of charity by choosing to donate online to charity or offer an offline donation. Your charitable contribution will potentially create a healthy, educated, and responsible generation.