Tithi Bhojan Programme under MDM: The Concept of “Tithi Bhojan”, a community participation programme was initiated by the State Government of Gujarat in mid-day meal programme by relying on the traditional practice of providing food to a large number of people on special occasions such as festivals, anniversaries, birthdays, marriages, and days of national importance, etc.
Members of the community provide nutritious and healthy food to the children as an additional food item or a full meal on such special occasions/festivals. This is completely voluntary, and the people in the community contribute either a complete full meal or contribute food items in the form of sweets, namkeens, fruits or sprouts, etc. as an additional item. Tithi Bhojan is not a substitute to Midday Meal. This only supplements or complements Mid – Day Meal.
The government of India has been sent to all the States and UTs to encourage the concept of Tithi Bhojan. It has been suggested that State/UTs may consider replicating the practice of Tithi Bhojan under Mid-Day Meal using the same nomenclature or adopt a local nomenclature suited to them. Necessary instructions with appropriate guidelines may be given to all schools covered under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme to facilitate and use Tithi Bhojan to enrich the implementation of the Mid-Day Meal.
As per the information provided, concepts similar to Tithi Bhojan have been adopted by the 11 States and UTs of Assam (Sampriti Bhojan), Andhra Pradesh, Punjab (Priti 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/Need of Tithi Bhojan
i. Sense of belonging among the community.
ii. Supplementation of the nutritional value of MDM food.
iii. Development of rapport with the local community.
iv. Inculcation of the feeling of equity among the children of all communities.
Points for effective implementation:
1. Identification of donors and awareness generation:
i. District collectors may make efforts for involving donors-individual, NGOs or other charitable organizations. Efforts for community mobilization may be made.
ii. School Management Committee (SMC) members may also discuss ways for community involvement and mobilization.
iii. The concept and importance of Tithi Bhojan may be discussed during the SMC meetings to emphasize the significance of additional meals for enhancing the nutritional status of children.
iv. A frequency/time schedule may also be prepared for the distribution of Tithi Bhojan on an adequate interval suitable to the donor and also to encourage the participation of other donors.
v. If the nature of the donation could be termed as a major donation e.g for a class or many classes or the whole school then the Donor may be invited to be present during the serving of Tithi Bhojan or Donor’s name may be announced in the morning assembly.
2. Items to be provided under Tithi Bhojan
i. During Tithi Bhojan food items to be provided to children may be a full meal or as an additional item.
ii. The food articles to be provided to children should be as per the food habits of the children of the region.
iii. A combination of cereal, pulse, and vegetables may be provided in case of a full meal.
iv. Fruits, milk, sweets, eggs, biscuits, halwa, Chikki (groundnut and jaggery), sprouts, etc. or any other item liked by children may be provided as an additional item. Tithi Bhojan Programme under MDM
v. Seasonal fruits should be selected as they are nutritious and cost-effective.
vi. 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.
vii. Donation in kind may also be accepted such as water filters, water coolers, fans, etc.
viii. The concept was started in Gujarat where cash/cheque donations are not accepted. The same model may be followed by other States and UTs.
3. Issues related to Health & Hygiene:
Some of the important points on issues related to food safety and hygiene from ‘Guidelines on Food Safety and Hygiene for School Level Kitchens under Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme’ issued on 13th February 2015, are reiterated as under:
i. Freshly prepared food items may be provided to children. The expiry date should be checked in case of any packed items.
ii. The food items should contain adequate nutrients and should be palatable, hygienic, and operationally feasible.
iii. Vegetables, fruits, and perishable food commodities should be selected fresh for consumption.
iv. Perishable items should not be stored in plastic bags as these get spoilt quickly due to a lack of transpiration. Such items have to be stored away from sunlight, in a cool place.
v. The containers used for serving meals should be made of non-toxic materials.
vi. The food articles should be tasted by the teachers/SMC members/ cook cum helpers just before serving to the children.
vii. Accessories and containers that come in contact with food and used for food handling, storage, preparation, and serving should be made of corrosion-free materials which do not impart any toxicity to the food material and should be easy to clean and / or disinfect.
viii. Every utensil or container containing any food or ingredient of food should at all times be either provided with a properly fitted cover/lid or with a clean gauze net or other material of texture sufficiently fine to protect the food completely from dust, dirt and flies and other insects.
ix. All food handlers should maintain cleanliness, wear washed clothes and keep their fingernails trimmed, clean and wash their hands with soap/detergent and water before commencing work and every time after touching, raw or contaminated food or using the toilet.
x. All Cook cum helpers / the person serving the food items, should avoid wearing loose items that might fall into food and also avoid touching or scratching their face, head or hair.
xi. Hand washes with soap before and after eating meal should be promoted. Children should be made aware of the importance of washing hands before and after a meal.
4. Other items that may be provided
The items like plates, glasses, spoons, water filters, food processors, school bags, soaps, liquid hand-wash or any other item as per the need of the children and the school may also be considered to be provided under Tithi Bhojan.
5. Management of items provided under Tithi Bhojan:
The school will maintain separate registers for the items received from donors for providing Tithi Bhojan. Tithi Bhojan Programme under MDM
i. A separate register shall be maintained for keeping the record of the donations.
ii. Record of category wise items shall be maintained.
iii. The Head Teacher shall maintain a record of food items and donors in a register.
iv. The donors may be honored or given recognition by the school during SMC meetings or annual functions of the school with the community to encourage the practice.