The study conducted in eight Latin American countries explored challenges, achievements, and lessons learned in the school feeding Programme in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru.
It showcases the contributions that school feeding programmes are making to strengthening children’s social protection, food security and nutritional status.
The study, “A panorama of school feeding and the possibilities for direct purchase from family – case studies in eight countries, was made available to the Ghana News Agency by Benjamín Labatut of the FAO Media Relations in Santiago, Chile.
It shows that the programmes promote both school attendance and bolster the learning process.
“This is a triple-win approach: it secures quality food for students of public schools, promotes consumption of fresh and healthy food, and opens new markets and the possibility of higher incomes for family farmers while boosting local development,” said FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.
All told, the various programmes profiled by the regional study include 18 million students of different ages and educational levels, with a combined budget of approximately $940 million, representing an annual net investment of $25 per student.
“Funding is primarily destined for the purchase and distribution of food. The commitment of governments in the region to school feeding programmes has grown,” the study said.
“Almost all countries examined have expressed interest in implementing a policy of direct purchases from small producers to supply their school feeding programs.”
However, FAO noted that legal and regulatory frameworks were required to facilitate the integration of small producers into government supply networks.
“The study shows that tackling the challenges of school feeding programmes requires the involvement of various actors, including governments, parliamentarians, international organizations, private sector, the educational community and civil society,” said Najla Veloso, coordinator of FAO’s Regional work in that area.
The study on school feeding programmes was supported by the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation Programme, engaged in a series of activities aimed at helping countries achieve various Millennium Development Goals.
It said Brazil’s experience with school feeding programmes had a 50-year history; by 2012, its national feeding programme reached nearly 45 million students.
“The Brazilian government is ready to contribute to the development and improvement of school feeding programmes not only in Latin America, but also in Africa,” said Albaneide Peixinho, general coordinator of Brazil’s School Feeding National Programme.
Given the advances shown by school feeding programmes highlighted in the regional study, FAO and the government of Brazil are stressing the need to translate the political commitment shown by countries into concrete school feeding policies and institutions, to guarantee the quality and nutritional value of food in schools.