The State of School Feeding Worldwide 2022

A new report by the World Food Programme (WFP) has found that the reach of school meals in low-income countries remains four percent below pre-pandemic levels. The State of School Feeding Worldwide 2022 report also revealed that Africa had the biggest declines in school meal coverage.

Moderate Increases in High and Middle-Income Countries

In contrast, high-income, upper middle-income, and lower middle-income countries showed a consistent, modest increase of four percent, four percent, and 12 percent, respectively. This data shows that while school meal programs in low-income countries are struggling, those in higher-income countries are improving.

Targeted Support Needed for Low-Income Countries

The report emphasizes the need for external development partners to particularly target support at low-income countries, where school meal programs are critical safety nets for vulnerable children and households. Despite increased domestic funding for school meals, low-income countries are still struggling due to decreased contributions from donors, which have fallen from 69 percent to 55 percent.

Increase in Number of Children Fed, But Disparities Remain

Approximately 420 million children around the world receive school meals, an increase of 30 million or seven percent from the 388 million children reported in 2020. Of the 30 million increases in the number of children receiving school meals between 2020 and 2022, the five countries that accounted for 19 million of the increase in the number of children fed were Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Impact of School Meal Programs

The report also highlights the significant impact of school meal programs on education, health, and nutrition, as well as social protection. According to the WFP, school feeding programs can increase enrollment rates by nine percent and attendance by eight percent. Additionally, research shows that for every $1 invested in school feeding programs, there is a return of $9.

Job Creation through School Meal Programs

School meal programs are also an important contributor to job creation, with the potential to create 1,000-2,000 jobs for every 100,000 children receiving school meals. While the vast majority of these jobs are cooks and food preparers, there are also opportunities for other roles.



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