The UN World Food Programme (WFP) provides school meals to more than 20 million children each year. Just 25 cents provides a child with a nutritious school meal of porridge, rice, or beans.
School meals have a tremendous impact. Serving food at school helps solve chronic hunger and can be life-changing for the world's poorest children. School meals also help to get students into the classroom, giving them an important key to a better future-an education.
Children, especially girls, do not have access to education because they are needed at home to do household chores and provide income for their families. A daily school meal provides a strong incentive to send children to school and keep them there and allows the children to focus on their studies, rather than their stomachs.
In many countries, where hunger and poverty is greatest, WFP steps in to provide meals to around 22 million children in 60 countries.
WFP school meals are usually provided at breakfast or lunch, or as a snack, such as high-energy biscuits that are provided and eaten every day in school.
Take-home rations, such as a sack of rice and a can of cooking oil, can act as an incentive to families whose children attend school regularly. WFP also uses fortified food and micronutrient powders to ensure that children get the nourishment they need.
School feeding supports the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on hunger, education and gender parity:
Education: school feeding increases enrollment and attendance and can help children learn more effectively, especially for girls.
Nutrition: the school meal is often the only nutritious meal a child gets on a regular basis. It can fight malnutrition and a lack of essential micronutrients that can curb development. Promoting nutrition and health at the same time!