Mid-Day School Meals as Social Safety Nets: An Evaluation of the Impact of Iron Fortification of Mid-Day Meals on the Prevalence of Anemia among Children in Odisha, India
Pradnya Paithankar, United Nations World Food Programme
Shariqua Yunus, United Nations World Food Programme
Divya Tiwari, United Nations World Food Programme
Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme of India is the largest school-feeding safety-net in the world. In-spite of India having the largest number of anemic children in the world, use of the scheme for nutritional impact, which is a great potential, is rarely attempted. Therefore, UNWFP initiated ‘iron-fortification of rice served under MDM’ pilot-project for reducing anemia-levels among children in Odisha. Mid-term longitudinal assessment of the project conducted in mid-April, 2014 which adopted a case-control approach shows that prevalence of anemia significantly declined by 5 percentage in programme district contrary to 1.2 percent increase in control (p<0.000). Magnitude of increase in mean hemoglobin and decline in the prevalence of severe/moderate anemia is much more in programme than control (p<0.000). Multivariate-regression analysis shows that consumption of iron-fortified-MDM has a significant impact in reducing the anemia levels. Therefore, it is been recommended that model should be scaled-up in other districts and states of India.