One in five children gets a school meal every day: WFP

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A schoolboy in rural Cambodia tucks into the healthy meal of rice and cooked vegetables he and all the other children get every day during classes courtesy of WFP. [Photo: WFP/Heather Hill]

About one out of every five school children gets a meal at school every day, according to a new report launched Friday in Rome.

The State of School Feeding Worldwide report was launched by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), providing for the first time a global picture and analysis of school feeding programmes in well-off countries as well as in developing nations, and data on how governments use school meals as a "safety net" in times of crisis.

According to the research, around 368 million children–about one out of every five–get a meal at school every day in 169 developing and developed countries. Global investment in these programmes is about $75 billion, with most coming from government budgets.

Spokesperson for the World Food Programme in Geneva Elizabeth Byers says coverage of these programmes is lowest where they are most needed.

“The number of children receiving school meals in fact, is lowest in countries where the need is the greatest. In low-income countries, the proportion of children receiving school meals is just 18 per cent, while, in fact in lower middle income countries, the figure is 49 per cent. It works as a safety net.”

"School feeding assures that where quality education is available, children are able to take advantage of the opportunity to learn," said WFP's Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, adding that "It's an investment that pays off in the future with better-educated, stronger and healthier adults and it's also a critical safety net to prevent the most vulnerable from suffering in times of crisis."

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’39″

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