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Pandemic derails advances in children’s access to school meals

Image: © WFP/Share/Lea May
Image: © WFP/Share/Lea May
24 Feb 2021
A United Nations World Food Programme report suggested the Covid-19 pandemic could reverse a decade of progress in global efforts to provide nutritious food to the world’s most vulnerable children.

According to the State of School Feeding Worldwide report one in two schoolchildren (338 million) were receiving school meals prior to the pandemic, the highest number in history.

Between 2013-2020 the number of children receiving school meals grew 9% globally and 36% in low-income countries. By April 2020, 199 countries had closed their schools and 370 million children were deprived of their only nutritious meal of the day.

David Beasley, WFP executive director, said: “School feeding is a game changer - for children, for communities and for countries. That one meal a day is often the reason hungry children go to school in the first place.

“It’s also a powerful incentive to make sure they’ll come back after lockdown ends. We need to get these programmes running again - even better than before - to stop Covid destroying the futures of millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.

“WFP is fully committed to working with our partners to ensure that no child, regardless of where they live, goes to school hungry – or worse, doesn’t go to school at all. After the turmoil of recent months, we must seize the opportunity to start building the better world we all want to see.”