1. The Technical Meeting of the Asia Pacific Network for Food and Nutrition (ANFN) on School Based Nutrition was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) in Bangkok, Thailand from 17 to 20 July 2007. A total of 20 participants representing 11 countries attended the Meeting. The countries represented included Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. Also present in the meeting were representatives from FAO Rome whom Biplab K. Nandi, Senior Food and Nutrition Officer, FAO RAP and Secretary of ANFN thanked for the support they extended in organizing the meeting. The representatives were Ellen Muehlhoff, Senior Nutrition Officer and Peter Glasauer, Nutrition Officer both from the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division, FAO, Rome. Simon Baker of the United Nations Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Andrew Colin Bell of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Western Pacific Region (WPRO) were likewise acknowledged for their contributions. The Special Invitee for the meeting was Kraisid Tontinsirin, former Director of the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division, FAO, Rome. Biplab K. Nandi thanked him for his valuable contributions to ANFN. Annex 1 shows the list of participants, invitees and guests.
2. By way of introduction and orientation, particularly to those joining the Technical Meeting for the first time, Biplab K. Nandi welcomed participants, resource persons and special guests to the meeting and gave a brief background of ANFN. He introduced the subject of the meeting and underscored the importance of school based nutrition in addressing malnutrition in all its forms. He informed the Meeting of the many opportunities that schools can provide to promote healthy dietary patterns, influence lifestyle choices for children and engage parents and communities in preventing malnutrition among children. All participants and guests were then requested to introduce themselves.
3. Hiroyuki Konuma, Officer in Charge, RAP and Deputy Regional Representative of FAO, RAP delivered the opening address on behalf of He Changchui, Assistant Director-General /Regional Representative, FAO-RAP. He informed the Meeting that major changes were taking place in the food and nutrition situation of the Asia Pacific region. There existed the double burden of malnutrition, i.e while the region was still facing problems of undernutrition and food insecurity, significant proportions of the population in the region were also suffering from diet-related chronic and lifestyle diseases.
4. He said that FAO recognized the potential of schools in overcoming food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition. In partnership with other international organizations FAO has developed and promotes innovative strategies and materials to help countries plan and implement school based nutrition education programmes and initiatives.
5. The important role of schools in promoting healthy eating habits, which have the potential of lasting a lifetime, was underlined. This nutrition impact could extend beyond the school children to also influence their families and communities.
6. The Meeting was informed about current FAO nutrition education and school gardening projects and initiatives. Hiroyuki Konuma urged the Meeting to promote and support innovative programmes that help improve school children’s nutrition and learning. Such programmes should include school meals for children through the creation of innovative public-private partnerships for healthy food choices. The potential of school gardens as a source of micronutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and animal foods to complement and add nutritional value to school meals was emphasized.
7. Some important documents published jointly by WHO and FAO were also shared. These included “Healthy Nutrition: An Essential Element of a Health Promoting School” and two journal articles which documented the lessons learned from a school based nutrition education pilot projects in Zhejiang Province in China.
8. Lastly, the Meeting was asked to consider the following key action points during the three-day deliberations, namely: 1) compulsory nutrition education in the school curriculum, 2) inclusion of comprehensive nutrition topics highlighting the relationship between diet and health, 3) coordination of nutrition education at all national fora, 4) provision of more resources for nutrition education, 5) strengthening school meal programme, and 6) introducing school garden programme. To conclude, he wished the participants a successful and productive meeting and declared the Technical Meeting open. The full text of the opening address is given in Appendix 2.
9. The participants elected Shashi Prabha Gupta, Technical Adviser of the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) of India and Pattanee Wichinagoon, Associate Professor and Deputy Director for Academic Affairs of the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University (INMU), Thailand Chair and Vice-chair, respectively. Maria Antonia G. Tuazon, Director of the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food (IHNF) and the Regional Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Planning (RTP-FNP) of the College of Human Ecology (CHE) at UP Los Banos, Philippines was elected Rapporteur of the Meeting, while Hardinsyah, Dean of the Faculty of Human Ecology of Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia was elected assistant Rapporteur.
10. Biplab K. Nandi provided an overview of the Meeting. He shared the rationale, objectives, agenda, timetable, expected outputs and organization of the Technical Meeting. Specifically, the objectives were as follows: 1) to highlight the problem of the double burden of malnutrition in the countries in the Region and the consequences for children’s learning and development, and 2) to identify the lessons and best practices from on-going school based nutrition programmes to promote life-long healthy eating and lifestyles. The revised Meeting agenda (inclusion of an Agenda item on International Conference on Nutrition/World Food Summit) was adopted and is given in Appendix 3.
11. To set the scene, Biplab K. Nandi gave an overview of the nutrition situation. He started by defining food security as “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious foods to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” as well as nutrition security as when there is adequate intake and utilization of macro-and micronutrients by the body. He also shared with the Meeting FAO’s mandate and the fact that this (i.e. improving the nutrition of populations and standards of living, and ensure humanity’s freedom from hunger) had special bearing on the theme of the Meeting.
12. He drew attention to the global malnutrition paradox. While FAO estimated that there were 854 million undernourished in the world WHO’s most recent figures showed that there were 300 million obese adults. The nutrition issues that confronted us at present included continuing and persistent global problems related to undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, new and emerging concerns related to diet related non-communicable diseases in addition to problems of food safety and quality.
13. In response to these global problems a number of worldwide events were organized resulting in international resolutions. The last of these international resolutions were the UN Millennium Development Summit in 2000 leading to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the FAO World Food Summit (five years later - fyl) (2002).