2013-05-27 16:09:56

WFP report highlights benefits of school meal programmes in crisis settings

27 May, 2013 - A United Nations report stresses the importance of providing meals for schoolchildren, particularly in times of crisis, and notes that this is still lacking in many developing countries. According to the State of School Feeding Worldwide report released by the World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday, around 368 million children – about one in five – get a meal at school every day in 169 developing and developed countries. However, despite the global nature of school feeding, the coverage of these programmes is lowest where they are most needed. In low-income countries, only 18 per cent receive a daily meal at school, compared to nearly 49 per cent of children in middle-income countries. Global investment in these programmes is about $75 billion, with most coming from government budgets. While these may seem like a large investment, the benefits are even greater as the report states that for every $1 spent by government and donors at least $3 is gained in economic returns. “School feeding assures that where quality education is available, children are able to take advantage of the opportunity to learn,” said the WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin. “It’s an investment that pays off in the future with better-educated, stronger and healthier adults and it’s also a critical safety net to prevent the most vulnerable from suffering in times of crisis,” she said. Over the past five years, at least 38 countries have scaled up their school feeding programmes in response to a crisis, whether related to food prices, conflict, natural disaster or financial volatility. WFP has been operating school meals programmes in developing countries for almost 50 years. In 2012, the agency provided meals or nutritious snacks in school for 24.7 million children in 63 countries, including take-home rations for 1.3 million girls and 500,000 boys – providing an incentive for poor families to keep their children in class, rather than pull them out to work in the fields, in factories or in the home. Rome-based WFP is the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger, providing food, on average, to 90 million people per year, 58 million of whom are children. (Source: UN)

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.