School Food and Nutrition

Publications

Each year, the Guatemalan State invests about 1 869.2 million Quetzals (USD 245 million) in the national School Feeding Programme (PAE, by its acronym in Spanish), which feeds 2.4 million children. This research estimates that, by including gastronomy in the PAE, it is possible to prevent in a school year (180 days), the waste of 561.6 tonnes of food, equivalent to USD 864 000, or 0.35 percent of the invested budget. This food waste is partly due to children refusing to eat food that they do not find tasty.

 These data are derived from a small-scale, pre-and post-design pilot intervention in an educational institution in the Department of San Marcos, Guatemala, where the gastronomic quality of a school menu improved due to a back-up training provided by a professional chef for the PAE cooks. In order to identify whether there were differences before and after the intervention, a survey was applied to a sample of children aged 8 to 14, which resulted in an increase in acceptance (from 84 percent to 90 percent) and a decrease in food waste (by 1.3 grammes on average per child per day).

Taking as a reference the cost of implementing a gastronomic laboratory in the Chilean PAE (0.017 percent of the total budget), and counterbalancing it with the resources corresponding to food waste in the PAE Guatemala (0.35 percent of the total budget), it appears clearly that investing in gastronomy is a useful mechanism to optimise the use of public resources invested in the PAE.

For this reason, based on the findings of this study, it is highly advisable to incorporate gastronomic personnel into the PAE team, who can advise throughout the entire implementation chain.

This impact evaluation report quantifies the impacts of Zambia’s Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme – one of the country’s biggest social protection programmes – and the Conservation Agriculture Scale Up (CASU) project, both alone and in combination with each other. The report looks at how the programmes affected farm production and other livelihoods, the food security situation of the household and of school-going children and the educational outcomes of the latter. The report concludes that each programme or programme component considered in isolation meets their strictly defined objectives, but their combination leads to unintended conflicting influence on certain outcomes, thus highlighting the need for increased coherence between programmes. The household and community surveys for the evaluation of the programmes took place between October 2017 and January 2018. The total sample size is 3 636 households and a total of 72 community interviews were also conducted.

Progressively more countries are reportedly incorporating school-based food and nutrition education (SFNE) into their education, nutrition and school feeding policies, acknowledging its role in impacting children’s food outlooks and practices, and that of their parents, families and the community. Despite this increasing interest and global recognition, there is no clear picture of SFNE implementation at school level, which makes it challenging to identify gaps, take corrective measures, make reforms or introduce new policy initiatives.

Framed under FAO’s school food and nutrition work, the aim of the survey was to determine the current role, approach, scope and linkages of government run SFNE in a sample of low- and middle-income countries. In particular, this survey is part of the package of outputs that FAO developed to establish the foundation for reshaping and carrying the SFNE work forward, in terms of effectiveness and scope.

School-based food and nutrition education (SFNE) helps schoolchildren and the school community to achieve lasting improvements in their food practices and outlooks; build the capacity to change and to adapt to external change; and pass on their learning to others. SFNE has also an important role in complementing efforts that are being made globally to improve food environments, and in empowering children and adolescents to become active participants in shaping the food system to be better able to deliver healthy and sustainable diets.

Despite increasing interest for SFNE, the evidence that supports it and its potential, much of traditional SFNE, particularly in LMICs, is largely underfunded, not delivering results, and disconnected from other key interventions that aim to support the food, nutrition, environment, and education nexus. SFNE is under-resourced, with capacity development opportunities lacking throughout the school system.

This White Paper is the first document of its kind, and it is based on the evidence, professional expertise, and field experience, lessons learned, and documented challenges of SFNE work in a variety of contexts. It presents the case for raising the profile and transforming the vision and learning model of SFNE. This document is directed firstly to a technical audience working in governmental organizations that deal with schoolchildren and adolescents and is also of interest to researchers, technical advisors, decision-makers, donors and investors, civil society, and UN organizations.

This note summarized FAO's approach to School Food and Nutrition highlighting the issues addressed, the main strategies and the expected results of implementing such approaches. It also focuses on why donors should invest in FAO's School Food and Nutrition model.  

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