A daily school meal provides a strong incentive to send children to school and keep them there and allows the children to focus on their studies, rather than their stomachs.Providing school meals has many and varied benefits. The fact that almost all countries in the world - both affluent and developing - provide school meals is proof of this.
In many countries, where hunger and poverty is greatest, WFP steps in to provide meals to around 22 million children in 60 countries, often in the hardest-to-reach areas. WFP has been operating school programmes for more than 50 years and is the world’s largest provider of school meals. Drawing from this experience , WFP also supports national governments in developing their own quality, sustainable school feeding programmes.
The State of School Feeding Worldwide report is available for download here.
What school meals?
WFP school meals are usually provided at breakfast or lunch, or as a snack, such as high-energy biscuits that are provided and eaten every day in school.
Take-home rations, such as a sack of rice and a can of cooking oil, can act as an incentive to families whose children attend school regularly. WFP also uses fortified food and micronutrient powders to ensure that children get the nourishment they need.
Why school meals?
School feeding supports the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on hunger, education and gender parity and offers multiple benefits:
- Education: school feeding increases enrolment and attendance and can help children learn more effectively.
- Nutrition: the school meal is often the only nutritious meal a child gets on a regular basis. It can fight malnutrition and a lack of essential micronutrients that can curb development. Learn more
- Health - School meals provides a platform for directly addressing child health for example through deworming schemes. It can also be a platform for other health interventions.
- Social protection: School meals acts as safety for the household, helping families to educate their children and protect their food security in times of crisis.
- Local agricultural production: Using locally sourced food means school feeding programmes benefit not only children, but also farmers, communities and rural economies. Learn about the Purchase for Progress pilot
UPDATED! Two Minutes to Learn About School Meals? Download The Fact Sheet here
Nourishing Bodies, Nourishing Minds
UNESCO, UNICEF and WFP today renew our commitment,and seek additional partners, to improve educational outcomes for the world’s most underserved children. Download the pamphlet
WFP Centre Of Excellence Against Hunger
Established in 2011 by WFP and the government of Brazil, the centre is a hub of south-south learning and knowledge sharing on school feeding. Learn more