Alimentation scolaire et nutrition

Ghana joins FAO and WFP to improve children’s diets through school food


On 18th January 2022, Ghana joined the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) on the project “School food nutrition guidelines and standards for safeguarding children and adolescents’ right to food”. The official blended joining took place during a one-and-a-half day workshop that saw the participation of 30 stakeholders with additional experts joining virtually. Representatives of Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, FAO and WFP opened the event; it featured presentations, breakout group work and plenary discussions to launch the project and contextualize the activities and target indicators through a participatory process; and it concluded with the validation of the project’s Steering Committee at the country level.

The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, aims to improve children’s diets through the integration of nutrition guidelines and standards within national school food programmes and policies, and to promote effective food education strategies and complementary food environment interventions in school systems. Nutrition guidelines and standards constitute a set of rules, principles and recommendations to improve the quality, quantity and adequacy of foods and meals available in and provided by schools. FAO and WFP, in collaboration with international experts and national stakeholders, are designing a global methodology for countries to develop their own cost-effective, feasible, participatory, context-specific, flexible and food systems-based guidelines and standards. The methodology will be piloted in Ghana and Cambodia to test, review and improve it, measure its results and document the lessons learned.

Ghana offers fertile ground for piloting the methodology. While it faces the double burden of malnutrition, it has a consolidated school meals programme. The introduction of nutrition standards has the potential to contribute to strengthening the nutrition impact of the programme and to enhance its responsiveness and flexibility to address crises such as the current pandemic.

“In Ghana, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the closure of schools had a negative impact, not merely on children’s right to education but also on their right to adequate food. This is because children and adolescents consume foods during school hours, which for many constitute a significant part of their daily diets. Therefore, maintaining a high nutrition quality of meals is imperative to support the diets of children and their families.” Stated Mr. Gueye Ndiaga, FAO Representative to Ghana.

In Ghana, the project will be supported by FAO and WFP, with the Women in Agriculture Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as a main anchor, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health, with other United Nations agencies and non-governmental institutions.

“By developing a tool to enhance the impact of school food, we also aim to contribute to ensuring the Right to Food for schoolchildren and adolescents. We are very grateful to all stakeholders and partners in Ghana for providing this opportunity and we look forward to working together on this common endeavour” explains Fatima Hachem, Senior Nutrition Officer at FAO.

The project contributes to the Strategy for FAO’s Work in Nutrition, in which the Organization renews its commitment to tackle malnutrition in all its forms by accelerating measures across agri-food systems to enable healthy diets for all; moreover, the project has the potential to positively impact various areas of FAO’s Four Betters. In the long term, the project can contribute towards a number of Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and 4 (Quality Education).