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Launch of the “School food global hub”


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the School Meals Coalition, have launched an innovative online platform to promote nutritious and more sustainable school food and higher quality food and nutrition education opportunities for children, with support from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany.

Pupils spent most of their day in school, and for vulnerable children around the world, a school meal represents the one meal a day they can rely on. It is therefore essential that food available in schools responds to children’s nutrition and education needs, and that they can develop the skills and motivation necessary to support a healthy diet, to ensure that they can thrive and reach their full potential. To promote guidance and exchanges on the optimal design, implementation and improvement of school food and nutrition policies and programmes globally, the School food global hub was unveiled on 23 June 2022 during an online event attended by more than 250 participants.

The knowledge hub hosts up-to-date information about school food nutrition guidelines and standards (NGS) and food and nutrition education programmes, policies and legislation around the world, and aims to expand its scope in the near future. The hub also offers a space for school children and adolescents to make their voices heard and contribute to the discussion around school food.

"We realised that countries do not have clarity on the best process to follow to develop nutrition guidelines and standards for school meals, and there was no methodology to do so. Moreover, obtaining information about what countries do in terms of food and nutrition education was extremely difficult. The need to have a knowledge hub to collect and exchange information all in one place became very clear to us" explained Fatima Hachem, Senior Nutrition Officer at FAO.

The School food global hub is part of a joint FAO-WFP project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany, to develop a global methodology to support countries in setting and implementing nutrition guidelines and standards for their school food programmes and policies. The methodology will be made available in the hub when developed.

"There has been a sustained improvement in the quality and quantity of school feeding programmes, and a concomitant increase in the quantity and quality of research. However, knowledge gaps still need to be filled: improving the availability of quality data on national school meal programmes worldwide is one of the goals of the School Meals Coalition and the Data and Monitoring Initiative specifically. As such this hub serves as one of the channels for the dissemination of research and evidence data" states Edward Lloyd-Evans, Policy and Research Officer, and Head of the Knowledge Management and Research Team of the School Based Programme at WFP.

Users of the hub can contribute to the development of the platform by providing suggestions and feedback in surveys that will help to shape additional sections. The hub also aims to share evidence, best practices and lessons learned from national and local contexts to strengthen school meal programmes around the world.

"The hub makes knowledge available to a broad audience, because it is important that everyone has access to this information. In this way, we can exchange ideas overcoming large distances, limited financial resources or a lack of time for travelling or participating in conferences. This hub can greatly simplify research" concludes Doris Heberle, Deputy Director General Nutrition of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany.

Participants in the launch event included the Permanent Representative-Designate of Finland to FAO, WFP and IFAD and of the Regional Coordinator of the Project “Consolidation of School Feeding Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean”; representatives from the Pacific School Food Network and the Global Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition; and country representatives from Georgia and Mali. The presentation of the knowledge hub was warmly received, with participants already sharing their ideas on how they will use the hub both during the event and on a dedicated board.