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Pré-Cúpula de Sistemas Alimentares: a importância da alimentação escolar Food Systems Pre-Summit: the importance of school meals


Pré-Cúpula de Sistemas Alimentares: a importância da alimentação escolar
Photo: WFP/Giulio d’Adamo

More than 100 countries, including Brazil, came together over the course of three-days to discuss how they will transform their national food systems to drive progress against the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Convened at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit, more than 500 in-person delegates and over 20,000 virtual delegates indicated how they would implement changes for more sustainable, equitable, resilient and nutritious food systems after an extensive process of engagement and dialogues seeking new ideas and evidence-based solutions. The Pre-Summit took place in Rome from July 26 to July 28 and is part of a process that will culminate at a Head of State-level Summit in New York this September.

The emerging global School Meals Coalition, supported by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger Brazil,  was one of the highlights of the last day of the event, at a panel with the participation of David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, Valerie Guarnieri, Assistant Executive Director, Carmen Burbano, Director School-based Programmes at WFP, and representatives from Africa, Latin America and Europe. “If you want to see stronger local communities, teen pregnancy rates drop, educational opportunities increased, an increase in GDP and economic empowerment, especially of girls, then provide school meals”, urged David Beasley at the event. He also highlighted that, for every US$ 1 invested in school meals, there is a US$ 9 return, and a 10% GDP increase in every nation that provides school meals.

Pré-Cúpula de Sistemas Alimentares: a importância da alimentação escolar
Photo: Peter Rodrigues

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger has been taking good practices in school feeding inspired in the Brazilian model to several countries in the world over the past decade. As part of this effort, the centre has been participating in and supporting several national dialogues, including events about the Beyond Cotton Project in partnership with the Brazilian Government. In addition, representatives from the Centre have taken part in the International FoodTech Forum and will join the FitsAgro event in August, both related to the Food Systems Summit dialogues. The Centre of Excellence is also supporting a joint campaign from the United Nations Country Team in Brazil around food systems and youth in August, with the aim to explore the connection of food security and all Sustainable Development Goals and the mandates of all UN agencies and programmes.

In addition to that, the Centre of Excellence is involved in the School Meals Coalition, where it will be supporting the Peer-to-Peer Network in promoting best practices and facilitating South-South exchanges. Daniel Balaban, WFP Representative in Brazil and Director of the Centre of Excellence, spoke at the event that marked the launch of the Research Consortium. “Our participation in the National Dialogues has been very focused on the use of technology and innovation to promote more sustainable food systems, so that is a topic we are very interested in as well”, said Daniel Balaban. 

About the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030. The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality. More information about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and list of Advisory Committee and Scientific Group members can be found here. 

The Food Systems Pre-Summit was held in Rome under the leadership of the Secretary-General and in partnership with the Government of Italy from July 26 to July 28.

Alimentação escolar: criando uma coalizão global para a saúde de crianças em idade escolar School Feeding: creating a global coalition for healthy schoolchildren
Alimentação escolar: criando uma coalizão global para a saúde de crianças em idade escolar
Photo: © WFP/Emily Fredenberg

On Friday, June 25th, the WFP School-based Programmes division, the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger Brazil and other global partners took part in a side event as part of the Policies against Hunger Conference, organized by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the WFP. The side event had as its theme “Forging a Global Coalition for healthy schoolchildren” and provided a space for presenters to share some details about the global school meals coalition that is being formed, while also inviting partners to join this global initiative. 

The conference aimed at providing a platform for moving hunger and malnutrition into the spotlight of international discussions on food security. The coalition is composed of several initiatives, such as the peer-to-peer network, providing an opportunity to jointly shape its activities and ways of working. The agenda of the side event included speeches from Carmen Burbano, Director of WFP’s School-based Programmes division, and Daniel Balaban, WFP Representative in Brazil and Director of the Centre of Excellence against Hunger. Other speakers included representatives from the German government, the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, representatives from Sri Lanka, Namibia and Honduras and other UN agencies. 

In his speech, Daniel Balaban detailed the work the WFP Centre of Excellence has been doing to help build and strengthen school feeding programmes across the globe over the past ten years. “The foundation of WFP’s Centres of Excellence – and particularly the one in Brazil – is that we use South-South and Triangular cooperation to showcase positive experiences in school health and nutrition programmes, such as the successful Brazilian case”, said Daniel Balaban. 

He mentioned the example of Kenya, which received direct support from the WFP Centre of Excellence between 2011 and 2017 to strengthen its programme and develop the National School Meals and Nutrition Strategy. Togo is another example of how South-South cooperation can foster the development of school feeding programmes. “We started supporting Togo in 2014 when they first started to envision a national school meals strategy. In 2020, the National Assembly of Togo unanimously approved the National School Feeding Law. It is a robust framework, the result of a long process of advocacy, technical support and analysis, and both the WFP and the WFP Centre of Excellence are proud to have been involved”, said Daniel Balaban.

You can learn more about the school feeding journey in Kenya and Togo on our Country Cases series. 

Country Cases – Kenya

Country Cases – Togo 

Centro de Excelência do WFP lança publicação sobre alimentação escolar em São Tomé e Príncipe WFP Centre of Excellence launches publication on school feeding in São Tomé and Príncipe

Centro de Excelência do WFP lança publicação sobre alimentação escolar em São Tomé e Príncipe

On Tuesday, June 22nd, an event marked the official launch of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) report for the National School Feeding and Health Programme (PNASE) of São Tomé and Príncipe, produced  by the WFP Centre of Excellence Against Hunger in Brazil, in collaboration with the WFP office in São Tomé and Príncipe, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the PNASE Coordination. Representatives of the country’s Ministries of Education and Higher Education, Agriculture and Finance, UN agencies, development partners, and civil society participated in the event held in São Tomé. Experts from the Centre of Excellence participated remotely through videoconference.

The cost-benefit study of PNASE is mainly focused on analysing the costs and potential benefits brought on by the programme. The recommendation to execute this type of analysis was made by the SABER exercise, an initiative to collect and share data on educational policies and institutions to support countries in strengthening education systems in a decentralized manner, back in 2016. The analysis is a relevant advocacy tool in favour of the programme, which faces challenges in securing funding, a common obstacle in several parts of the world. “By demonstrating the high returns of investment in school feeding, the cost-benefit analysis strengthens the defense of investing in the programme, which positively impacts the future lives of beneficiaries in terms of future productivity, health, and reduction of inequalities”, said Vinicius Limongi, a specialist at the WFP Centre of Excellence.

During the event, the PNASE Coordinator and the WFP Representative in São Tomé and Príncipe highlighted the challenges and impacts of the programme, which provides daily hot meals for more than 50,000 children in the country. Then, the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Julieta Izidro Rodrigues, emphasised the importance of the support the WFP received to develop the programme and the São Tomé government’s ambition to scale up school feeding.

“With the decisive participation of the government, we are already able to offer meals for preschool and basic education students, ensuring that children have access to healthy meals and energy for their development and learning. The cost-benefit analysis of PNASE is, for us, a representation of all the effort we have been making since 2012,” said the Minister. “São Tomé and Príncipe has been counting on essential help from development partners and intends to continue advancing to execute the programme through its own efforts, until it reaches all students in the country,” she added.

Vinicius Limongi, from the WFP Centre of Excellence, presented the report to the participants and painted a broad picture of the PNASE, the methodology used, the main results of the analysis and a series of recommendations for the programme based on its findings. “PNASE is one of the most advanced institutionally-designed programmes in the Global South. Fighting for funding and continuity is a constant effort, even in countries with more established programmes. This study supports this advocacy effort for investing and expanding the programme by highlighting the enormous opportunity for social and economic development it represents for the country,” said Vinicius Limongi.

The report is available in Portuguese and will soon be translated into English.


Country Cases: Kenya

The document, produced in partnership with WFP Kenya and the Government of Kenya, details the country’s journey in developing its national school feeding programme and the role of the WFP Centre of Excellence in this process. Home-grown school meals represent the leading school-based programme in Kenya since 1980. Initially, 240,000 children in primary and pre-primary schools were covered by the programme, in arid and semi-arid areas. The introduction of Free Primary Education in January 2003 boosted school enrolment and, by 2007, School Meals reached more than 1.2 million school children. The programme has, therefore, become a reference and has inspired other developing countries, such as Namibia and Zambia.



Country Cases – Togo

Togo’s collaboration with WFP CoE began in 2014, when a delegation from the country came to Brazil on a Study Visit, to learn about the Brazilian experience in home-grown school feeding. Since then, WFP CoE has continuously engaged with WFP Togo and the country’s government, dedicated to establishing the legal and normative bases that can guarantee the existence and guide the implementation of school feeding in Togo. Over the years, WFP CoE supported the development of the country’s National School Feeding Policy and the School Feeding Bill, while maintaining consistent engagement with and support to Togo’s government and WFP Country Office.


Publication Collection

Virtual Exchanges Publication Collection

Here are the latest publications produced by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger Brazil. The list includes papers on how countries are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep school feeding programmes running, in addition to other publications such as Policy Briefs, Good Practices and manuals.



Supporting the Development and Implemantation of Resource Mobilization Initiatives: The Gambia

A new document published by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger Brazil showcases the path that led to a successful case of project proposal preparation, from the initial call to the final approval of a USD 16 million grant. The process was initiated by the WFP country office in The Gambia in March 2019, when the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP), a global fund financed by the G20 and managed by the World Bank, was launched. The GAFSP call aimed at providing resources to scale-up agricultural, food and nutrition security assistance to fragile and conflict-ridden countries.



Implementing the Brazilian National School Feeding Programme During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the suspension of the school calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brazilian National School Feeding Programme (PNAE), has decided to distribute the food purchased for the programme to children’s parents and guardians in the form of food baskets – which the government is calling “kits”. The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger Brazil has created a document that summarises the main recommendations for school feeding nutritionists and managers to organise the assemblage and distribution of these kits, as detailed by FNDE´s “Guidelines for the Execution of PNAE during the Emergency Situation arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic”.



School feeding in times of COVID-19

With the advance of COVID-19 worldwide, thousands of schools have suspended their activities and around 368 million children no longer have access to school meals. The provision of meals in schools represents a stable and predictable supply of food to children, contributing to improve nutrition, health, and academic performance. In order to ensure the continuity of school meals initiatives, many governments are restructuring their programmes. The changes include the revision of benefits allocated per child/family and allow a shift from on-site eating modalities to the distribution of food baskets or direct cash transfers.



School Feeding and Social Protection in Brazil with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Public and private schools suspended classes throughout Brazil as part of the Covid-19 prevention actions. This means that the nearly 40 million children and adolescents enrolled in basic education – and who also benefit from daily school meals – are no longer receiving this service. The publication presents the actions being taken in Brazilian states and municipalities to maintain school meals distribution during the crisis.