The Ministry of Rural Development launched the scheme in 2000-2001. Indigent senior citizens of 65 years of age or above who though eligible for old age pension under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) but are not getting the pension, are covered and 10 kgs. of food grains per person per month are supplied free of cost under the scheme.

From 2002-2003 it has been transferred to State Plan along with the National Social Assistance Programme comprising the National Old Age Pension Scheme and the National Family Benefit Scheme. The funds for the transferred scheme are being released by the Ministry of Finance as Additional Central Assistance (ACA) to the State Plan and the States have the requisite flexibility in the choice of beneficiaries and implementation. The food grains are released to the State Governments on the existing norms at BPL rates.