Evaluating Performance of an Untargeted Urban Food Security Scheme in India

Document Type


Publication Date


Department 1




The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficiency of the relative performances of Mother’s canteen across the regions of Tamil Nadu and find out the determinants of inefficiencies in the scheme.


An untargeted food security scheme called Amma (Mother's) canteen was started in Tamil Nadu, India, with an aim to provide the urban poor with hygienic and healthy food at an affordable price. Along with secondary data, interviews were conducted to understand the operational details of Mother's canteen. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) was used to find the relative efficiency of the scheme operated by nine corporations.


Based on the daily expenditure, number of meals served and revenue, seven of nine corporations were found to be inefficient. Further, sensitivity analyses found that among six procurement variables, procurement (quantity and price) of black gram and cooking oil were determinants of inefficiency.

Research limitations/implications

As an untargeted scheme, the cost of delivering service-based evaluation was used for performance evaluation. Policymakers could use centralized procurement instead of open market procurement at the corporation level and standardized ingredients' usage (quantity) to further reduce the cost of the food security scheme.

Practical implications

The proposed DEA model may be used by policymakers to empirically evaluate the food security scheme's delivery effectiveness across various corporations in a region. Inefficient branches are identified here with empirical support for further performance improvement changes.


There are limited number of studies evaluating untargeted schemes. This paper presents the challenges of evaluating an untargeted scheme which allows self-selection of beneficiaries. The outcome of this study will help in identifying inefficient corporations, and further, improve the performance and cost of delivering untargeted food security scheme.


This article can be found at the publisher's website.



This item is not available in The Cupola.