The Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) launched a Global Survey of School Meal Programmes to contribute to strengthening the work of governments and institutions committed to improving school feeding globally. The survey is being conducted for the first time and will be administered every two to three years. To discuss the multiple implications and perspectives of the survey, GCNF held a seminar on 10 April in Washington D.C., and the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger was in attendance.
The survey asks a set of questions and the results will be used to develop a baseline database on the current state of school feeding programmes in all countries of the world, including developed countries and those with no school feeding activities. Even though school feeding is one of the most common social protection approaches in the world, currently there is no global database that gathers standardized information on school feeding across all countries and sectors. The survey will help fill in this gap.
At the opening of the seminar, Dr. Marie Ruel, director of Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division of IFPRI, addressed how school feeding programmes work as platform for multiple benefits, such as social transfer to poor families, nutrition and health, education, gender equality, and agricultural production.
Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, said, “This survey is an initiative of upmost importance, as it will provide updated and reliable information that will enable stakeholders to formulate evidence-based interventions and to make informed decisions to improve school feeding programmes”.
The survey is designed to capture information on the scope of school feeding activities in each country in the most recently completed school year. It addresses government involvement, nutrition, education, and gender, agricultural and private sector engagement, and health and sanitation topics.
The survey database will enable participating countries to share information about its school feeding programmes with stakeholders and researchers around the world and to identify strengths, weaknesses, and needs. It will also allow countries to recognize and remedy gaps in programme data collection, to learn from the successes and challenges of other countries, and to make better informed investments in school nutrition, training, education, research, and funding efforts.
The survey is particularly interested in national government involvement with school feeding, so it is designed to be answered by a government representative. GCNF hosts an annual conference in partnership with the WFP Centre of Excellence, the Global Child Nutrition Forum, to encourage learning and sharing across countries and between officials responsible for school feeding programmes.
On 8 April, Daniel Balaban participated in the GCNF board meeting that set the date and place for the next Global Child Nutrition Forum. In early December, around 40 countries are expected to gather in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to discuss strategies to improve school feeding programmes. During the event, GCNF will present the results of the first survey.