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Understanding students’ preferences on school mid-day meal menu in India

Jabir Ali (Centre for Food & Agribusiness Management, Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, India)
Mohammad Akbar (Strategic Management Group, Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Noida, India)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the difference in students’ preferences on weekly menu of school mid-day meal (MDM) program in Uttar Pradesh, India.


The study is based on primary structured questionnaire survey through personal interviews using multi-stage stratified sampling technique. This comprehensive survey covered 2,400 primary and upper primary students belonging to eight districts of Uttar Pradesh – Allahabad, Balrampur, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Hathras, Kanpur Nagar, Mathura, Shahjahanpur and Varanasi. A total of 60 schools have been selected from each district, covering a total of 480 primary and upper primary schools. Simple statistical tools have been used to analyze the surveyed data such as cross-tabulation, percentage distribution and rank analysis. Further, six research hypotheses have been formulated to analyze the difference in school meal menu preferences among the students and χ2-statistics has been used to test the significance level of these hypotheses.


Survey results indicate that more than 90 percent students eat MDM in the school as per the weekly menu. Result of χ2-test indicates that choices on school meal menu among the students differ significantly across weekdays. Rice-pulses or rice-sambar served on Tuesday is reported to be the first preferred food of children given first preference by around 30 percent, followed by kadi-rice or kheer which is served on Wednesday. The results of χ2-tests exhibited a significant difference on weekly menu choices by gender, kitchen types, rural and urban locations and geographical regions. About 27 percent of the students reported that they want to have a change in the menu. When further probed about the kind of changes desired in the menu, puri-vegetables was found to be the most preferred choice of the respondents, beside halwa/kheer and rice with pulses/vegetables/kadi being the next preferred choices.

Practical implications

The present study provides managerial implications to the policy makers and scheme/program implementers for better understanding of the students’ preferences on school MDM weekly menu.


There are several evaluation studies undertaken by various agencies to assess the impact of MDM program on school attendance, retention and nutritional status of children. However, there are limited numbers of studies available, which have measured the students’ preferences on school MDM menu.



This study has been supported by the Mid-Day Meal Authority, Lucknow.


Ali, J. and Akbar, M. (2015), "Understanding students’ preferences on school mid-day meal menu in India", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 2, pp. 805-819.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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