Program of Brazil-FAO International Cooperation

Uruguay takes first steps with Sustainable Schools methodology

Uruguay is advancing towards increasingly sustainable feeding programs, committed to ensuring the human right to adequate food for all students.

Brasília, Brazil, May 6, 2024 - The Sustainable Schools methodology was developed by Brazil-FAO International Cooperation Programme, aiming to generate practical experiences and highlight the challenges and potentials of each country, with the goal of scaling these experiences into school feeding policy.

Currently, more than 30,000 educational establishments across 18 countries in the region have adopted Sustainable Schools. The methodology consists of six components: i) intersectoral and interinstitutional articulation; ii) social participation; iii) food and nutrition education and pedagogical gardens; iv) adequate and healthy menus; v) improvement of infrastructure for school feeding; and vi) direct public procurement from family farming.

The initiative to start this work in Uruguay arose in 2023, following the participation of Uruguayan representatives in technical missions conducted by the Sustainable School Feeding Network (RAES), within the framework of International Cooperation Brazil-FAO in school feeding.

The Brazil-FAO International Cooperation on school feeding, since 2009, has been developed by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), the National Fund for Educational Development (FNDE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), along with countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region. These three institutions also promote RAES. 

This network is an international cooperation strategy aimed at strengthening school feeding policies in the region. To achieve this goal, it provides technical assistance, exchanges experiences, disseminates knowledge, organizes events, and supports countries technically in implementing and strengthening their school feeding programs. Since its creation in 2018, 26 countries in the LAC region have participated in activities at the regional level.

"We realized that, although our programme has made significant progress, there are still elements to be improved," says Rosa Lezue, director of the school feeding programme of the Directorate General of Initial and Primary Education (DGEIP). Among the elements mentioned by Rosa for improvement are the implementation of direct public purchases from family farming to include these products in the programme, closer coordination between different government levels such as Education, Agriculture, and Health, and greater social and community participation.

"We want to implement Sustainable Schools to involve families, communities, external stakeholders beyond the 'school kitchen,' and to highlight the programme in the regional-local context," comments Rosa. "We also want to raise awareness among schools, families, and the local community about the Sustainable Schools methodology, focusing on food from a humanistic and rights-based perspective, so that it is not merely an assistive service," adds Rosa Lezue.

"These experiences changed our perspective, and we decided to share the knowledge gained in our country to promote advances in our PAE," adds Caren Zelmonovich, nutrition advisor at DGEIP.

According to government representatives, to share the knowledge gained through the technical missions offered by RAES, meetings were held with the Central Directive Council of the National Administration of Public Education (ANEP-CODICEN) of Uruguay. In late 2023, DGEIP agreed to seek technical cooperation from the FAO Representation in Uruguay to conduct the diagnosis that will enable progress with the implementation of Sustainable Schools. Subsequently, FAO in the country and the School of Nutrition signed an agreement to support this work. The process received support from the FAO Representation in Uruguay and the Brazil-FAO Cooperation in school feeding.


Since the beginning of 2024, the School of Nutrition at the University of the Republic has been working on an institutional diagnosis of the school feeding programme and documenting the reality of school feeding for the implementation of Sustainable Schools methodologies in the country.

"We will also identify the processes related to capacity development and training demands of the actors involved and then prepare a pilot plan for implementing the Sustainable Schools methodology," says Professor Gabriela Fajardo. "These are the first steps of Sustainable Schools in Uruguay," she adds.

The diagnosis will consider the implementation of Sustainable Schools components, as well as the national reality regarding poverty, food insecurity, public policies, and coordination with the Government. It will also address normative frameworks related to school feeding, such as laws and decrees, as well as information from various sources. After a detailed analysis, a pilot will be designed to pave the way for the implementation of the first Sustainable Schools in Uruguay.

The necessary transformation of food systems requires improving the ways of production, distribution, and consumption of food, strengthening governance. School feeding allows working in various areas, and responses must be integrated, combining efforts between institutions that implement public policy and actors that generate knowledge.

"At the FAO Representation in Uruguay, we see it as valuable to strengthen the school feeding programme with this diagnosis conducted by the academia in the context of implementing the Sustainable Schools methodology," emphasizes Jorge Meza, FAO Representative in Uruguay.

"It is a pleasure for us to see Uruguay starting this process, and surely the lessons learned from this experience will inspire and be shared with other countries. This is the main focus of regional networking, strengthening national actions," says Najla Veloso, coordinator of the project Regional Agenda for Sustainable School Feeding in Latin America and the Caribbean, executed under the Brazil-FAO Cooperation.