Educating girls is one of the most effective ways to improve food security: when girls are educated they are more likely to be able to meet the nutritional needs of their children and to head households that are food-secure.

But in low-income countries parents often keeping girls at home to work or care for household members. In these countries, where school attendance is limited, the promise of at least one meal each day motivates parents to send their daughters to school.

In fact, evidence shows that school meals programmes significantly improve girls’ school enrolment and attendance rates. In India, girls involved in the School Meals Programme have a 30 percent higher chance of completing primary school.

More girls at school

That’s one of the reasons why WFP is the largest organiser of school meals programmes in the developing world. In schools receiving WFP meals, attendance rates are usually close to equal for boys and girls.

However, school meals are not always enough of an incentive to attract the poorest girls to school. This is why WFP includes take-home rations in some programmes. In this scheme, children who are enrolled and attend school regularly receive food rations to bring back to their families, compensating the household for any loss in income they may experience by sending their children to school.

Learn more: School meals