By Charlotte Broyd and Francis Peel
Partnership for Child Development, Imperial College London
Each year on 16 October World Food Day aims to increase understanding of problems and solutions in the drive to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Over the years the themes day has taken on various themes which have focused on investing in agriculture and recently focus has been drawn on health and education too.
One solution which countries have put in place to combat hunger and poverty is to provide free school meals to their schoolchildren, and now an increasing number of governments are looking at how school feeding can do the same for their smallholder farmers.
Globally the scale of school feeding is massive. The State of School Feeding Worldwide” A ground breaking report published earlier this year “by the UN’s World Food Programme and World Bank with support from Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development (PCD), found that governments in 169 countries are investing up to $75 billion dollars annually to provide school meals to over 368 million children every school day.
The popularity of school feeding is simply that it gets results - results in terms of happier, healthier and better educated kids. The evidence base shows that school feeding increases pupil enrolment, improves retention and that educational outcomes improve as children are able to concentrate better and ultimately enter adult life later and better equipped. These benefits are felt the most in the poorest communities. In short school feeding provides a very effective social safety net.