School Meal Programs Around the World: Report Based on the Global Survey of School Meal Programs

Food & Drink

COVID-19 underscores the need for school feeding programs worldwide:

GCNF’s report School feeding programs around the world finds school feeding programs promote inclusive economic growth SEATTLE, WA (April 14, 2021) - School feeding programs go well beyond their critical benefits, education and Nutrition for vulnerable children, job creation and contribution to agricultural and economic growth and social stability of entire communities, states , a new report from the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF), school feeding programs around the world

. While many countries invest in school feeding programs, coverage is weakest where need is greatest.

The report “The value of school meals as an investment in human capital is essential to inclusive economic growth and the well-being of children and families,” says Mitchell. “Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we advocate school feeding programs as a path to recovery. School meals help children return to school. They make a direct contribution to the health, nutrition and education of children, expand employment opportunities for women and young people and strengthen agriculture. The cross-generational benefit is enormous. “ is based on the School Meal Programs around the World, Global Survey of School Meal Programs © , conducted in 2019 by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation

,creates the first comprehensive global database of school feeding programs.

Of the 103 countries that responded, 85 said they have one or more large-scale school feeding programs that serve an estimated 297.3 million children around the world. Almost three-quarters of countries said their programs also act as a social safety net, providing poor or vulnerable children with food that offsets the household bills for their families. When schools were closed due to the pandemic from Honduras to the United States and Senegal, families had limited access to school feeding programs, which were an important source of food and household support for their children.

The survey also showsthat funding remains a challenge in many countries. It is clear, however, that programs are most successful when funding is provided in national budgets. “Governments around the world need to invest in gray matter infrastructure. the infrastructure that helps the brain grow from diet; the infrastructure that will build the healthy and productive workforce of the future, ”said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and 2017 recipient of the GCNF’s Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award and the World Food Prize.

The survey also found that almost all programs buy some or all of the food domestically, creating significant institutional demand to support the livelihood of local producers,Promote the production of healthier food for children and strengthen the resilience of our supply chains. The use of this purchasing power could have a strong and positive effect on national and global food systems.

“The survey improves our understanding of the many advantages and the value of school meals as an economic and social development tool,” explains Managing Director Arlene Mitchell. “We expect a major impact on food systems as we uncover several ways to increase the programme’s commitment to agriculture and use local purchasing, especially from smallholders, as a tool for economic development and resilience.”

The countries also recognizethat school feeding programs make a significant contribution to the equitable economic empowerment of women if they value formal employment and fair wages. Most countries reported that 75% or more of school food manufacturers were women, but 31% of programs reported that very few or no cooks were paid for their work.

The effects of school meals can be even greater for teenage girls - Well-fed teenage girls achieve better learning outcomes, delay marriage and early pregnancy, and have opportunities to move forward with their lives. However, the survey found that countries with the highest early marriage and pregnancy rates have the lowest high school feeding programs.

The “I will not rest until every child in Africa has at least two meals a day and can go to school, because then they may have a chance to follow in my footsteps - have the right to control their fate, “said Agnes Kalibata , President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Special Envoy for the United Nations Summit on Food Systems 2021 Global Child Nutrition Foundation

works with governments, civil society, and the private sector to ensure that hunger does not affect children is an obstacle to learning. Together we advocate school feeding programs as a strong investment in the human capital of every child. Share best practices and research among our colleagues;and provide support by building valuable partnerships and combining resources to meet the needs of our network members. The goal of the GCNF is to conduct a survey every two to three years to get a systematically updated overview of school feeding programs around the world. The upcoming 2021 Global Survey of School Meal Programs ©

aims to capture the impact of the pandemic for at least a full school year, based on the 2019 survey.

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“We have so much more information than before and can see the school lunch landscape from different angles,” Mitchell said. “Most of the issues, however, require further study and, most importantly, action.COVID-19 has increased the urgency of action. “

Rebecca Steelman

Global Child Nutrition Foundation