School Meals


Logistics

As the largest humanitarian provider of school meals worldwide, WFP, with governments and partners, supports education, reduces malnutrition, and triggers development, especially during times of crisis and emergency.

On this website you will find a wealth of information both about school feeding in general as well as about the work WFP is doing. We want it to be a global repository of knowledge so that people from various sectors can access information about school feeding worldwide.

Nearly all countries around the world have a school feeding programme, and each day at least 368 million children from kindergarten to secondary school receive food at school. This huge figure indicates that governments recognize school feeding as an essential tool for the development and growth of school children, communities, and society as a whole, and as a social safety net. Still, many more children do not benefit from school feeding, and in countries where poverty rates mean school meals would be a vital safety net, the reach of school meal programmes is smaller.

In our efforts to create a world where educational and nutritional opportunities reach the hungry poor, schools play a significant role. Schools are where we lay the foundation for future generations to grow and thrive.

What is School Feeding?

School feeding is defined here as the provision of food to school children. There are as many types of programmes as there are countries, but they can be loosely classified into two main groups: (1) in-school feeding, where children are fed in school with (a) programmes that provide meals; and (b) programmes that provide high-energy biscuits or snacks; and (2) take-home rations, where families are given food if their children attend school regularly.

What are the Benefits?

A meal at school acts as a magnet to get children into the classroom. Continuing to provide a daily meal to children as they grow helps keep them in school. There is wide range of benefits associated with the school feeding, many of which extend beyond the classroom:

-    Safety Nets: School meals acts as income transfers for the household, helping families to educate their children and protect their food security in times of crisis. School meals support healthy development so children can become healthy and productive adults, breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty in the world’s most vulnerable areas. 

-    Nutrition:  In poor countries, school meals are often the only regular and nutritious meals a child receives, acting as an investment in the child’s future. Without them, hunger and micronutrient deficiencies can cause irreversible damage to their growing brains and bodies.  When school meals are combined with deworming and micronutrient fortification, especially when tailored to specific nutritional needs - such as those for adolescent girls - the investment in a child’s future is multiplied.

-    Education: A daily school meal provides a strong incentive to send children to school and keep them there. They allow children to focus on their studies rather than their stomachs and boost their education by increasing school enrolment and attendance, decreasing drop-out rates, and improving cognitive abilities. Programmes can be tailored with the provision of take home rations to target adolescent girls in areas where there is a gender gap. 

-    Local Agriculture: As often as possible, food is procured locally, which benefits local farmers and the whole community while enhancing the sustainability of the program and makes healthier food baskets