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New IDB – WFP study showcases impact of School Feeding Programs

  • The State of School Feeding in Latin America and the Caribbean 2022 was released at a summit in Brasilia.
  • The Power of Multi-Sectoral Approaches for Human Capital Development summit assembled 200 high-level representatives from over 20 countries.

LATIN AMERICA / CARIBBEAN – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Food Program (WFP) presented a joint study on the state of school feeding in Latin America and the Caribbean at a high-level meeting in Brasilia that concluded on Thursday.

The State of School Feeding in Latin America and the Caribbean 2022 report shows that these programs reach 80.3 million children in 31 countries, meaning the region ranks second in the world in terms of school meals beneficiaries. The report also highlights the proven ways that these programs positively affect school attendance, learning, health, and nutrition, and emphasizes their return on investment of up to $9 for every $1 spent.

However, discrepancies in the scope, relevance, and quality of programs persist between and within countries. One of the report’s findings is that in low-income countries, school feeding costs as little as $10 per year, per child, compared to an estimated $293 in high-income countries.

The study argues that school feeding needs to be expanded and promoted as a powerful tool for human development, post-pandemic recovery, and building more just and inclusive societies.

“As the study shows, well-run school feeding programs are a highly cost-effective investment to break the cycle of poverty and inequality,” said Morgan Doyle, IDB representative in Brazil.

Carmen Burbano, global director of school feeding at the WFP, said that “in a context of growing vulnerability, these programs are becoming essential policies for reactivating sustainable food systems.”

The publication advises governments in the region on how to reach the most vulnerable groups through high-quality, comprehensive, and resilient initiatives.

“Teaching and learning are much more difficult when children are hungry or malnourished,” said Mercedes Mateo, chief of education at the IDB. “School meals are an opportunity to help solve the learning crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean by protecting the educational paths of millions of children and youth. We look forward to working with partners and governments to strengthen these programs.”

Human capital development summit

The Power of Multi-Sectoral Approaches for Human Capital Development, an event organized by the IDB and the WFP in close collaboration with the government of Brazil, brought together 200 participants from governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, international financial institutions, and the United Nations.

“This three-day event has been about sharing successful solutions to bolster our social protection systems so people can reach their full potential. We are grateful to the government of Brazil for its involvement in this event and for being a global leader in south-south cooperation,” said Lola Castro, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the high-level talks, participants agreed on the need to pursue multi-sectoral approaches that link education, food security, and nutrition to create more equitable societies.

School Meals Coalition members in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as delegations from France and Finland, attended the event. The results will be presented at the global School Meals Coalition summit, to be held in October 2023 in Paris.



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