Development & Aid, Food and Agriculture, Global, Headlines, Multimedia, Podcast, TerraViva United Nations

Food and Agriculture

Governments Worldwide Prioritize School Feeding for Its Multiple Benefits

KATHMANDU, Mar 26 2024 (IPS) - Before COVID-19 hit, in January 2020, 388 million children worldwide were being fed every day at school. Soon after lockdowns began, that number plummeted to 18 million, but just two years later, in 2022, it had recovered, and more — school feeding had reached 420 million children.

Labelled the world’s largest social security net by the United Nations World Food Programme, school meals have become essential tools for governments rich and poor globally. Not only does school feeding allow once-hungry students to focus on learning, in many cases the schemes also help to improve nutrition and eating habits, ensure regular attendance, and through buying ingredients locally or in-country, help to boost local and national economies.

Today’s guest, Donald Bundy, is Director of the Global Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition. He told me that he is not surprised at the swift recovery of school meals after COVID-19 — he says it was politically expedient for many governments to bring them back quickly. What he didn’t predict was that the recovery would surpass pre-pandemic numbers, even as governments north and south struggled to overcome barriers such as broken supply chains, growing inequality, and persistent inflation.

Bundy points out that school feeding is not an initiative of aid agencies or donor governments. In fact, 98% of the programmes are financed by national governments as investments in their people and future workforce.

We also discuss how countries in the global south, such as Brazil, India and Rwanda, are breaking ground for innovative school feeding while outlier northern countries, such as Canada and Norway, are starting to discuss whether it’s time to adopt national programmes. Bundy also explains how fallout from the pandemic pushed lawmakers in the United States to adopt school meals schemes which led to universal initiatives that feed all students in some of the country’s largest cities, like Houston, New York and Washington, DC.



Republish | | Print |

Related Tags

substance abuse book