Program of Brazil-FAO International Cooperation

Sustainable schools

During the last years (2012-2022), through the school feeding projects developed by the Brazil-FAO Cooperation, Sustainable Schools have been implemented in 13 countries, directly benefiting more than 1,6 million children, located in 536 municipalities in 63 departments, reaching 23,385 schools.

The Sustainable Schools methodology defined in conjunction with the countries seeks to promote municipalities and schools as a reference for the implementation of sustainable SFPs, with universal coverage (to all students), based on the concrete and practical experience of building knowledge and learning about the school feeding policy and food and nutrition education to promote healthy eating habits. It is an activity to be developed by different sectors of the government until scaling it up at the national level.

In 2022 the Brazil-FAO Cooperation on school feeding published the document "Situational state of Sustainable Schools', which compiles experiences of the implementation of Sustainable Schools (SS) methodology in the regional countries and the updated statistics. It highlights aspects such as challenges, growth, implications, scaling up SFP, lessons learned, and recommendations, with a view on the dissemination of good practices, including the pandemic period, and providing an overview of the current state of the Sustainable Schools in the region. It can be seen through this here.

The initiative seeks to generate learning and good practices in school feeding policy, where at least six components are developed:

  • Intersectoral articulation;
  • Community participation;
  • Adoption of adequate and healthy menus;
  • Food and nutrition education actions;
  • Improvement of the school infrastructure;
  • Public procurement from family farming, generating income and promoting development of local economies.

The implementation of this methodology was based on the premise that schools are privileged spaces for community convergence, and that the social and economic development of a town is associated with educational inclusion.

Therefore, schools constitute an environment conducive to overcoming poverty, promoting SAN and health and, as such, they should be a reference, not only for education, but also for quality and sustainable ECP.

For this, together with the national governments of each country and the municipalities, some schools were indicated to be a concrete and practical experience of building knowledge and learning from actors at various levels such as teachers, school directors, farmers, parents, mothers, nutritionists. And especially to be a task developed in conjunction with the ministries of education, health and agriculture.

It is an activity created to unite the different sectors of the government at a horizontal level, and also to promote articulated work with the departmental and municipal spheres. To achieve this, six components were created and implemented. These components aim to enable individuals at various levels, including teachers, school directors, farmers, parents, and nutritionists, to understand the challenges, mechanisms for overcoming them, and the potential of the School Feeding Programmes (SFPs).


Intersectoral and interinstitutional articulation

This component implies intersectoral and inter-institutional articulation among all public policies related to school feeding, such as education, health, social and economic development policies, as well as agricultural policies.

Social and citizen participation

The involvement of families, students, school directors, teachers and local actors is considered essential. This participation constitutes a solid basis for the sustainability of the actions carried out in the schools and is a transversal axis in the entire process of constitution of sustainable SFPs.

Food and nutrition education and pedagogical school gardens

It is important to note that, in addition to the nutritionist, several professionals can (and should) develop the Food and Nutrition Education. In schools, with the support of nutritionists, it should be integrated into the school curriculum, continuously, through the various subjects.

This action should be carried out in a way that is linked to the real world of the students, with the aim of promoting critical and creative thinking on the different topics related to food and nutrition, school feeding, food cultures and environment.

Improvement of school infrastructure

This component represents the investment in infrastructure and adequate equipment for the storage, preparation and consumption of food, especially kitchens, warehouses and dining rooms, with the aim of guaranteeing adequate conditions, both for kitchen personnel and students. which must have pleasant environments to eat, which will contribute to strengthen healthy eating behaviors.

Adoption of adequate and healthy menus according to the local culture

School is one of the most important environments for promoting health and healthy eating practices. In this environment, students have the opportunity to reflect, discuss, learn about and experience issues related to health and nutrition, through the food offered and the actions of food and nutrition education.

The Sustainable School methodology is based on the fact that healthy eating habits and good nutrition in childhood promote good growth, development, learning and health and promote the reduction of risks of chronic diseases throughout life.

Public purchases of family farming

Based on the menu indicated by nutritionists, managers will seek to acquire food from local producers of family farming to guarantee diversity and respect for food culture. This makes school feeding a very relevant market for local family farmers.

Furthermore, these procurement activities are coordinated with community involvement, promoting the growth of the local economy and enhancing the quality of life. Consequently, it is anticipated that this approach will result in diversified student diets, centered on the consumption of fresh, nutritious, and local foods during school meals.

Achievements of the Sustainable Schools methodology:

a) The paradigm shift in school feeding that Sustainable Schools have promoted.

b) The initially adopted concepts and those that were built and reconstructed with countries around the implementation of this methodology, which have served as a reference for many other projects in countries and within FAO.

c) The concrete practice of a sustainable school feeding program SFP that this methodology has allowed many national, departmental, municipal governments, school communities, and especially students to offer.

d) The various valuable documents created for synthesis and reports related to this methodology.

e) The influence on the development and approval of recently passed school feeding laws.

f) Above all, the improvement in the quality of SFP in many countries, based on the knowledge built from the thousands of Sustainable Schools implemented in the region.

Some learnings from the implementation of sustainable schools  

  • Poverty alleviation strategies should start with territorial development, involving the local community.
  • School feeding, as a catalyst for local dynamics and collaborative actions, has promoted territorial organization.
  • Food security and nutritional policies have been driven by debates around school feeding programs, considering their scope and consistency.
  • The organization of local committees is essential for the development of any policy, including school feeding.
  • The sustainability of social policies is linked to the joint management of various government actors.
  • The development of pilot programmes in conjunction with the government, taking into account the local reality, leads to the replication of models and the expansion of the policy at the local and national levels.
  • The provision of local foods in school feeding has been very useful as a gradual learning process for the various actors involved in the direct purchasing of products from local farmers.
  • Nutritional education is a path to address obesity and malnutrition indicators that have influenced policies in various areas, especially in health and social development.