Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition

Successful online consultation on the role of school food and nutrition programmes for sustainable food systems in Europe and Central Asia

Rome, Italy – FAO’s project “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia” concluded a successful online consultation on school food and nutrition programmes, held on FAO’s Forum on Food Security and Nutrition in Europe and Central Asia from 7 November to 18 December 2017.

The consultation, titled “Promoting sustainable food systems for healthy diets in Europe and Central Asia: the key role of school food and nutrition programmes”, was organized in collaboration with the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, the FAO’s Nutrition and Food Systems Division and the Social and Industrial Food Service Institute (SIFI). During the online exchange, participants were invited to share ideas and recommendations on national school food and nutrition programmes (SFNP) and how their effectiveness could be promoted.  

Schools provide a unique environment where the different causes of malnutrition can be addressed in a coherent way, and SFNP are particularly recognized as pertinent nutrition-sensitive interventions that can contribute to the eradication of malnutrition, and support physical and intellectual development of children. Moreover, when linked to smallholder food production, they can be an important instrument to stimulate the local economy, and in this way support broader development.

During the consultation, Forum contributors identified a number of areas in which action should be undertaken in SFNP, and discussed how to make them more inclusive and better integrated into food systems. Participants also shared ideas on how they could better support the adoption of healthy diets and lifestyles from an early age on. Many contributions included examples of initiatives that have already been implemented.

The online exchange complemented the Regional Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets in Europe and Central Asia, which took place in Budapest on 4-5 December 2017, and which discussed knowledge, experiences and ideas regarding the implementation of nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems policies and programmes. Views and recommendations on the development and implementation of SFNP gathered through the online consultation will support policy makers and project implementers in the process of promoting the availability, access, affordability and desirability of nutritious foods and health outlooks and good practices among schoolchildren in Europe and Central Asia. 

The online consultation received 22 valuable contributions from participants from a wide range of national and international organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions across the region. The submissions received can be accessed on the consultation webpage.