Success of School Meals
In a world where food is more than abundant, 795 million people continue to suffer from starvation. The World Food Programme has pledged alongside the United Nations to end world hunger by 2030. Many of the WFP’s strategies are bringing the U.N. closer to achieving this goal. In 2015, the World Food Programme reached 17.4 million children in 62 countries with school meals. Below are some examples of the success of school meals.

  1. Social Protection
    According to evidence from the World Food Programme, school meals are the most common social safety net in the world. One major success of school meals is that they support children’s education while protecting their food security. Flexible in their design, each meal plan can be targeted towards a specific child’s needs. This helps many of the children receiving school meals that suffer from illness or disabilities.
  2. Access to Education
    School meals endorse education. By adding nourishment to the classroom, walls built to keep children from accessing a learning environment are broken down. One school meal a day allows children to focus on their studies, increases registration and creates rises within children’s attendance. A reported 45 studies of school meals programs around the world revealed that children receiving one school meal each day for a year attend school four to seven days more than children who do not receive any school meals.
  3. Nourishment
    The World Food Programme prides itself on nutrition-sensitive planning. Fresh foods are incorporated to provide as much nutritional value as possible. For most of the children attending school in poor countries, one school meal is all the child will consume for that entire day. Because of this reason, it is essential that meals are tailored to fit the needs of each individual child. In a meta-analysis cited by WFP, 45 studies revealed that when children receive a standard meal 200 days per year, they gain about 0.37 kilograms more per year than those who are not part of any meal plan.
  4. Locally Grown Food
    Homegrown school meals are now underway in more than 37 countries. Local farmers partner with schools to provide meals, which boosts the local economy. Once farmers have a trusted outlet for their product, stable income, higher investments and productivity occur. Connecting farmers to schools and providing children with healthy meals varies according to location. For best results, each homegrown program is designed to meet the diverse needs of the people residing in that target area.

Despite the growth in the world population, 216 million people are not as hungry as they once were. The success of school meals has provided 368 million children with a meal at school every day. If trends last and the World Food Programme continues to feed millions of children, the pledge towards no hunger by 2030 seems more than attainable.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr

madagascar's first school meal program
Many classrooms in Madagascar are overcrowded, led by under qualified teachers and lack basic resources. The country also has a high drop out rate in primary schools.

The government is helping to improve the education system and keep more children in school by providing food for students. The Ministry of Education, in partnership with the World Food Programme, the World Bank and the Partnership for Child Development, is currently working to develop a school meal program that serves all public schools.

Nationwide, only 60 percent of students complete their primary education. The secondary school completion rate is below 25 percent. And while enrollment has increased in recent years, access to education remains a critical problem in poorer regions.

The southern districts of Madagascar have the lowest enrollment rates and the highest levels of poverty in the nation. For this reason, the initiative focuses primarily on schools in the Southern part of the country. Offering both breakfast and lunch will help to ensure that children do not go hungry, which will also enable them to concentrate better during class.

Thanks to cooperation between government and NGOs, Madagascar’s first school meal program has begun. The WFP has implemented the school-feeding program for over 220,000 children from the southern part of the country. The World Bank is also helping the government by funding meals to more than 107,000 students throughout the country. However, Madagascar still needs about $3.5 million in additional funds to feed the remaining 113,000 school children.

School meals are critical to improving the education system.

The program will incentivize parents to keep their children in school. Often, boys and girls from poor homes must drop out of school so they can work to support their families. Providing food at schools lessens the financial burden on families and increases food security since parents know that their children will have a reliable source of food.

The Ministry of Education also aims to purchase the food for the school meals from local farmers and markets. This will help the national economy, aid small farmers and make the program more self-sufficient.

With children receiving proper nutrition and an education, Madagascar’s school meal program will help to break the cycle of poverty in poor regions of the country. The food provides children with proteins and vitamins to foster cognitive and physical development, allowing children to properly receive educations and better their lives.

While the education system in Madagascar faces many problems, the government’s commitment to implementing a school meal program is a significant improvement. Supplying breakfast and lunch at school is beneficial for poor children, who might otherwise go hungry. The meals help to increase both primary and secondary completion rates and ensure a brighter future for Madagascar’s youth.

– Kathleen Egan

Sources: World Food Programme, World Bank, UNICEF
Photo: World Food Programme