School Meals Coalition: Link-up aims to transform children’s lives – world
United Nations pre-summit on food systems: how governments are working to provide millions of schoolchildren with what is often their only nutritious and healthy meal of the day
By Henry Makiwa
Hosted by the Italian government, the Pre-Summit will be held in Rome from Monday July 26 to Wednesday July 28, with an extensive virtual program and platform. Click here to register for events including: ‘Action Track 5 – Build resilience’ (with WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla), Tue 11.30am-1.30pm; School Meal Coalition, Wednesday 09: 00-09: 50)
In early 2020, school meal programs delivered more meals than ever before – to 388 million children (or one in two children in primary school globally).
But that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. When schools closed at the start of the pandemic, 370 million children suddenly missed what was often their only good meal of the day.
Now, as the world aims to get rid of COVID-19 and recover, restoring school lunch programs is an urgent priority. These programs transform lives and serve as platforms to improve education and food systems globally.
To do something about this, governments have joined forces with development agencies, donors, academia, the private sector, UN agencies and civil society organizations to build the School meals coalition which aims to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a healthy and nutritious meal by 2030.
The Coalition will help fight the COVID-19 pandemic by taking actions that can urgently restore, improve and scale up school lunch programs around the world.
School meal programs do more than just provide food. Evidence has shown that they are one of the most impactful and effective interventions to support children and that they can play an important role in achieving a number of The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Nutritious school meals can transform a child’s life. They help fight hunger, malnutrition and poverty by supporting nutrition, learning, health and long-term well-being. School meal programs also contribute to gender equality by, for example, encouraging girls to study and achieve their dreams – and to avoid being rushed into early marriage.
The School Meals Coalition will be large and government-led, taking into account the responsibilities of governments for the health and education of schoolchildren. the World Food Program, with extensive experience in providing school meals to children around the world, supports governments in their efforts.
More than 60 member states are engaged in the design and development of the Coalition, in addition to more than 30 stakeholders from UN agencies, universities, multilateral organizations and others. It is important to note that school meals are also regional priorities of the Food Systems Summit for the African Union and the European Union.
To achieve its objectives, the School Meals Coalition will aim to:
- Restore help all countries restore effective school meal programs and make good what was lost during the pandemic.
- To reach all the people who are left behind. The most vulnerable, in low and lower middle income countries, were not reached even before the pandemic.
- To improve our approach by improving the quality and effectiveness of existing school meal programs in all countries by facilitating a healthy food environment in schools and promoting safe, nutritious and sustainably produced foods.