JOHANNESBURG – School nutrition promotes social and economic development and also helps reduce hunger and poverty, especially when linked to the purchase of food from smallholder farmers. This is the main message of the 2014 Global Child Nutrition Forum, the world’s foremost event on school feeding, which opens today in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Since 1997, the Forum has been gathering leaders from developing countries for five days of discussions about how best to establish sustainable school feeding programmes run by national governments. By sharing their insights, experiences and challenges, an informal worldwide alliance of leaders dedicated to advancing school feeding has evolved.
Some 66 million primary school-age children are estimated to attend class hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone. In many countries, a daily hot school meal is the only good meal a child gets on a regular basis.
Not only does a school meal fight malnutrition and provide essential micronutrients – it has also been proven to help a child learn more effectively and to increase attendance and enrollment. When using locally-sourced food, school feeding programmes also benefit farming communities and rural economies.
“The Forum has become a global catalyst for the development of national school feeding programmes,” says Daniel Balaban, director of the UN World Food Programme’s Centre of Excellence against Hunger which is based in Brazil.
For this year’s event, running from 29 September to 3 October, 250 participants from more than 20 countries are expected. They include ministers, government officials and representatives of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The Forum, which is being organized by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) and the World Food Programme’s Centre of Excellence against Hunger, aims to establish, expand and improve national sustainable school feeding programmes worldwide.
The partnership between GCNF and the Centre was established in 2013 when the Forum was held in Brazil. Besides promoting knowledge exchange, that event gave participants the opportunity to learn about Brazil’s school feeding programme, one of the oldest and largest such programmes in the world and a strong example of linkage between school feeding and smallholder farming.
The Forum is sponsored by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, the Brazilian government through the National Fund for the Development of Education (FNDE), Brazil’s Social Services for Industry (SESI), the Government of South Africa and UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
# # #
For more information please contact:
Isadora Ferreira, WFP/Brazil, +5561 2193 8513, +5561 9260 9835, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Orr, WFP/Johannesburg, +27 11 517 1577, mob: +27 82 908 1417, email:email@example.com
Hope Mokgatlhe, Department of Basic Education/Pretoria, tel. 012 357 3776/4035, mob: +27 71 680 6849,