In multiple crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, escalating hunger and malnutrition, unsustainable food systems, ineffective education systems where children fail to learn, conflicts, and climate change, children are the hardest hit.
This is why the School Meals Coalition was launched at the 2021 Food Systems Summit: to ensure that every day, all children receive a nutritious meal in school by 2030, securing their future. It’s a simple yet powerful concept. Through the School Meals Coalition, leaders from 90 countries have concurred that scaling up and enhancing school meal programs is crucial for their country’s development.
The Coalition is promoting improved and more nutritious diets, emphasizing the strong connection between schools and local food production, leading to more sustainable food systems. Over the past two years, school meal programs have generated employment opportunities, primarily for women, in many countries. Climate-friendly school meal programs have been a significant focus in global and regional meetings.
Global investment in school meal programs has risen by USD 5 billion (from $43 billion in 2020 to $48 billion in 2022), benefiting 418 million children compared to 388 million before the COVID-19 pandemic. Government commitment, especially in low-income countries, has increased, with a 15 percent uptick in domestic funding for essential school meals, despite limited fiscal resources.