Children from vulnerable families are often pulled out of school when they are needed to work at home. A daily school meal can be a strong incentive for families to keep them in the classroom. Now, with schools shut down around the world because of the pandemic, we’re working to make sure kids still get the meals they depend on.
child brides in developing countries have no formal education
increase in girls’ enrollment rates when they receive school meals and take-home rations
can give a child school meals for a whole year
School feeding goes far beyond the plate of food
School feeding programs can help get children into school and help them stay there; studies have shown programs can increase enrollment by an average of 9%. In Bangladesh, fortified biscuits have improved school enrollment by 14.2% and reduced the probability of drop-outs by 7.5%. In Madagascar, attendance rates increased from 88% to 98% over two years after the introduction of take-home rations.Photo: WFP/Raul Saenz
A meta-analysis of school meals programs across 32 sub-Saharan countries showed on-site meals combined with take-home rations (THRs) increased the enrollment of girls by 12%. In Madagascar, THRs have proven to reduce dropout rates, particularly for adolescent girls, by over 40%. In Northern Uganda, school meals and THRs were found to reduce anemia prevalence in girls ages 10–13 by 17% - 20%.Photo: WFP/Ala Kheir
Health and Nutrition
Well-designed school feeding programs can promote macronutrient and micronutrient improvements in children's diets, leading to enhanced nutrition and health, decreased morbidity and increased learning capacities. Fortified school meals or snacks consistently reduce anemia prevalence and improve micronutrient status (in particular iron, vitamin A, iodine and folate).
Social Protection and Safety Nets
School feeding programs can reduce poverty by boosting income for households and communities. For families, the value of meals in school is equivalent to about 10% of a household’s income. For families with several children, that can mean substantial savings. Linking local production to local consumption creates a stable and predictable market for local small-scale farmers, around 70% of whom are women.Photo: WFP/Martin Karimi
Local Economies and Agriculture
Buying local food creates stable markets, boosts local agriculture, impacts rural transformation and strengthens local food systems. In Brazil, for example, 30% of all purchases for school feeding come from small-scale agriculture. These farmers are often parents with schoolchildren, helping them break inter-generational cycles of hunger and poverty.
The COVID-19 crisis has pushed hundreds of millions of kids out of school in 190 countries - cutting off their access to those crucial school meals. This has huge implications for students’ learning, health and nutrition. WFP is making sure school kids and their families get the food they need, working with governments on alternatives like take-home rations, home food delivery and providing cash or vouchers.
While most Yemenis don’t know where their next meal will come from, WFP’s school meals program provides Yemeni children with critical calories and nutrition they can depend on.Read More +
The school meals program in Aleppo employs 50 widowed women and has added $1.3M to the economy. Local farmers supply 880 pounds of food every day that's made into meals.Read more +
In Rwanda, 35% of children under five are chronically malnourished. WFP provides daily meals to over 80,000 school children in 104 schools located in the most food-insecure areas.Listen to the podcast +
During the Pandemic
We’re innovating to find ways to keep out-of-school kids fed. Check out our interactive solutions map showing the 70 countries WFP is working with to bridge the gaps, how many children we’re reaching, and how exactly we’re doing it.
Get the quick facts on where WFP provides school meals and assistance and the long-lasting benefits of the program.
Need another reason to give? Read the School Meals case for support and see how school meals improve individual students' lives, their communities and the local markets that surround them.
Every day, countless children across the globe turn up for school on an empty stomach, which makes it hard to focus on lessons. Many simply do not go, as their families need them to help in the fields or around the house.
Help break the inter-generational cycle of hunger and poverty that affects the world’s most vulnerable areas by helping children get better access to education and nutrition.