Today is International School Meals Day! Over the last 50 years, the World Food Programme (WFP) has supported over 100 countries with school feeding programmes and/or technical assistance. In over 40 countries, including Timor-Leste, ownership of these programmes has been transferred to the national government.
Although being a vital part of it, school feeding programmes go far beyond a plate of food...
These programmes provide a variety of benefits and contribute to multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:
- Education (SDG4): school meals can help children into school and help them stay there. School meals are also one of the few interventions that show positive impact in both school participation and learning.
- Gender Equality (SDG5): school meals can help increase enrolment of girls in school. Additionally, higher levels of education are strongly correlated to reduction of child marriages.
- Nutrition and Health (SDG2 and SDG3): school meals can promote adequate macro and micronutrient intake for children, leading to decreased morbidity and increased learning capacities. Fortified school meals or snacks consistently reduce anaemia prevalence and improve micronutrient status.
- Social Protection and Safety Nets (SDG1): school meals can reduce poverty by boosting income for households and communities, as for many families, the value of meals in school is equivalent to about 10% of a household’s income.
- Local Economies and Agriculture (SDG8): Buying local food creates stable markets, boosts local agriculture, impacts rural transformation and strengthens local food systems. Farmers are often parents with schoolchildren, helping them break intergenerational cycles of hunger and poverty.