School feeding for better nutrition and learning

Prior to the pandemic, one in two school-age children worldwide received one school meal every day. ‘When schools were closed it was not just access to education that was lost. For millions of children around the world school meals are critical. Norway is therefore entering into an agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) to support the provision of locally produced school meals in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger,’ said Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim.

The World Food Programme (WFP) plays a vital role in increasing access to nutritious meals at school and supporting school meal programmes in developing countries.

‘Simply providing a healthy meal at school has enormous ripple effects for a child’s development and for local communities. We know that more children attend school when they are given meals. I am very pleased to be signing this agreement with the World Food Programme today. Norway is contributing NOK 50 million to the school meal programmes in three countries, and to help strengthen WFP’s cooperation with the African Union in this area,’ said Ms Tvinnereim.

The school meal programme is part of Norway’s support for nutrition initiatives and is a component of the Norwegian Government’s efforts to combat hunger and increase food security. Moreover, local production and preparation benefits local communities.

At the Nutrition for Growth Summit in Japan this week, many participants pointed to school meals as an important tool in fighting malnutrition and hunger. Norway has joined the Tokyo Compact on Global Nutrition for Growth and will work to increase support for development of policy and financing initiatives to improve nutrition. Norway’s cooperation with WFP on school meals is part of this effort.

The importance of school meals was also highlighted during the UN Food System Summit in September. Norway is participating in the School Meals Coalition established in connection with the Summit. WFP serves as the coalition’s secretariat.

Facts about the World Food Programme’s support for school meals:

  • The World Food Programme has over 60 years of experience in implementing school meal programmes.
  • With the funding from Norway, the World Food Programme plans to provide meals to 146 000 schoolchildren in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger. In addition, 5 000 teenage girls in Niger will receive cash payments to help enable them to complete their schooling.
  • The school meal programmes in all three countries will give priority to using locally produced food. This will lead to a higher and more stable income for local farmers, who are often the children’s parents, and provide the children with fresh, healthy food.
  • The World Food Programme works with partners to ensure that the school meal programmes provide other services such as health checks, vaccinations, and hygiene education. WFP will also work with the African Union’s Development Agency to encourage national authorities to take over responsibility for the school meal programmes in the long term.

For more information about the World Food Programme see here:

https://www.wfp.org/publications/state-school-feeding-worldwide-2020

Pictures available on Flickr.

Contact: Mari Bangstad, mari.bangstad@mfa.no, T: +47 41 44 08 71