Improved Learning through better Health, Nutrition and Education for the School-Age Child.
General malnutrition and specific micronutrient deficiencies including
Vitamin A and
Iron and Anaemia can occur at any age and are common in school children. They contribute to infant, child and maternal morbidity, decreased learning capacity, lower productivity and higher infant and child mortality.
Nutrition Interventions at school-age offers direct benefits for school children, because current micronutrient deficiencies, (unlike stunting and other long-term consequences of earlier malnutrition), are rapidly reversible at any age. Addressing these deficiencies has been shown to have a positive impact on learning.
Improving Child Nutrition through School Feeding
School feeding programmes providing free nutritious school meals to children are an effective intervention which tackles important nutrition deficiencies impacting on child development and learning abilities which are commonly found among children of primary-school age in low and middle income countries.
When school feeding programmes are implemented as part of the wider school health and nutrition package including deworming, nutrition education and access to safe water they can have an even greater impact on child nutrition. In addition to improving child nutrition and learning school feeding has been shown to increase school enrolment and attendance as children are more likely to go and stay in school.
Globally the value of school feeding is recognized,
according to The State of School Feeding Worldwide published in 2013 almost every country in the world for which there was information available was seeking in some form or other to feed its schoolchildren. Based on a sample of 169 countries, the report estimated that at least 368 million children are fed daily when they are at school.
Increasingly a number of countries are now also implementing Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programmes, a concept which links both improved child nutrition and learning and agricultural development which ensures food used in school meals is locally procured from smallholder farmers, thus helping both farmers and children alike; farmers are more able to earn a better wage with increased access to a secure market while children were more likely to go and stay in school through the provision of free school meals.