The Global Child Nutrition Forum ended in Montreal after five days of discussions and exchanges on nutrition and school feeding between governments, academics, practitioners, NGOs, and the private sector. The 250 participants from 59 countries adopted a Communiqué with concrete recommendations for countries to adopt and improve school meals programmes.
Among the recommendations, governments are encouraged to integrate school meals programmes into national policies, strategies and plans, to take advantage of existing school feeding regional networks, to mainstream gender considerations in the design and implementation of programmes, and to include school meals programmes into national budgets with high priority.
The Forum brought together 250 participants, of which 60 percent were women. They represented 59 countries. Among the participants were one First Lady, one Deputy Prime Minister, five Ministers and two Vice-Ministers, members of Parliaments, and representatives from the African Union. The Forum gathered government representatives, practitioners and community members from national, provincial and municipal levels, including sectors such as education, agriculture, health, social protection, planning and finance.
The Forum’s Communiqué recognized that access to food must be considered a basic human right in all countries, and that it is the responsibility of governments to ensure this right. Strong political will, leadership and ownership from the government are required to assure food and nutrition security to all children, adolescents and youth and for integrated and sustainable school meals programmes.
The document also acknowledges that school meals programmes promote gender equity and equality and that integrated and sustainable school meals programmes, especially home-grown school meals, are a sound investment in human capital. School meals programmes should incorporate food and nutrition education.
The Communiqué highlights effective knowledge-sharing platforms, the media and South-South cooperation as effective means to strengthen school meals programmes. School feeding is a crucial strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the ones related to poverty, hunger, health, education, gender, water, economic growth, inequalities and partnerships.
The Forum’s participants made 12 concrete recommendations for governments and other school feeding stakeholders. They highlight integration of school meals programmes into national policies, strategies and plans, the need to mainstream gender considerations, the need of a nutrition-sensitive approach, the importance of robust monitoring and evaluation systems, and the need of environmentally friendly practices to ensure long-term sustainability.
The Communiqué calls upon countries to ensure sufficient funds in their national budgets and to be champions and advocate for the implementation of school meals programmes. Communication and media strategies can contribute to achieve programmes’ goals, as well as coordination among partners via existing local, regional, and global school feeding networks. Special attention is needed for school meals programmes in countries facing conflict or post-conflict.
The participating countries must translate the recommendations of the Forum’s Communiqué into action plans, as appropriate and relevant in their respective country contexts, and report on their progress in next year’s Forum.
The 2017 Global Child Nutrition Forum’s theme was building bridges to sustainable development through school meals programmes: engaging local, national, regional, and global communities. The event is organized every year by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation and the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger. This year, the event had the support of the Breakfast Club Canada.
The Communiqué is available in English, French, and Portuguese: