The Development Law Service

The National Institute of Student Welfare and the Parliamentary Front against Hunger of the Dominican Republic submit a school food and nutrition bill to Congress to ensure children’s right to adequate food at school


On 7 March 2023, the Executive Director of the National Institute of Student Welfare (INABIE) of the Dominican Republic, Mr Victor Castro, accompanied by a delegation from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), submitted a bill on School Food and Nutrition to the Coordinator of the Parliamentary Front Against Hunger, Honorable Member of the House of Deputies, Ms Soraya Suarez, for further submission to Congress.

 Mr Castro stressed the importance of ensuring that all the food included in school meals is eventually cooked on-site in the schools. Where an educational center does not have the appropriate facilities for this, the food should be prepared in establishments that are no more than a thousand meters away from the school, to prevent any risk of contamination and food-borne diseases. Ensuring food safety in schools is an essential component of the right to adequate food.

 The bill includes important aspects such as creating linkages to family farming supply chains at the local level and ensuring free and permanent access to safe and drinking water at school. It also bans the sale of junk or ultra-processed food and sugary drinks and beverages in public and private schools, as well as within 500 meters of the educational centers in order to promote healthy eating habits.

 In addition, the bill also provides for the establishment of a competency-based food and nutrition education curriculum in schools, integrating aspects of hygiene and environmental considerations. The food and nutrition education curriculum should aim to ensure that students and other actors in the school community such as principals, teachers, students, families, and suppliers acquire basic and context-specific skills that will enable them to navigate the food environment and improve nutrition. The draft proposes the creation of school gardens in schools for pedagogical purposes.

 The School Food and Nutrition Bill is the result of extensive participatory work by representatives of INABIE, FAO, the Brazilian International Cooperation, the Parliamentary Front against Hunger for Latin America and the Caribbean (supported by the Spanish and Mexican International Cooperation) and the Center for Research and Social Promotion, among other entities. It also included consultations with key national actors in the areas of agriculture, health, education, nutrition and procurement, including civil society organization leaders.

The Development Law Service of FAO’s Legal Office is pleased to have provided technical assistance, as part of FAO’s team.