UN Supports Efforts to Provide Regular and Healthy School Meals to Every Child in Need by 2030

Five UN agencies have thrown their support behind an international alliance to improve the nutrition, health, and education of school-aged children around the world, after pandemic-related school closures.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have all pledged their support to the School Meals Coalition, which aims to provide a nutritious meal in school to every child in need by 2030.

The coalition, led by France and Finland, has pledged to implement “smart” school meal programmes, which mix normal school meals with supplementary health and nutrition initiatives to support children’s growth and learning.

The UN agency leaders noted that the meals might act as “springboards” for food system transformation, noting that school children are not the only ones who benefit.

They can also employ locally farmed food to support national and local markets and food systems, which would improve prospects for smallholder farmers and local catering enterprises, many of which are managed by women.

Furthermore, these initiatives can help achieve at least seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The School Meals Coalition could aid countries in their recovery from the COVID-19 problem. School feeding programs can help children return to school, repair the harm to their education, provide jobs in the community, and enable smallholder farmers to feed their families on a sustainable basis.

The coalition, which includes more than 50 partners ranging from non-governmental organizations to civil society and foundations, will benefit from the expertise of each of the five UN agencies.

The coalition will work to restore school meals and other health and nutrition programmes that existed prior to the COVID-19 crisis, expand them to reach an additional 73 million children who were not covered prior to the pandemic, and establish food quality standards that are linked to local food production where possible.

The United Nations agencies have pledged to assist governments in achieving the coalition’s aims by providing technical and operational assistance when needed, as well as campaigning for funding and better statistics on the effects of school health and nutrition programmes.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in 2020, caused widespread disruption in schools and education around the world.

Millions of children were unable to receive school meals or take use of school-based health and nutrition programmes including deworming, vaccination, and psychosocial assistance.

More than 150 million children throughout the world still go hungry and lack access to basic health and nutrition services.

PC: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meals_in_primary_school.jpg