Representatives from more than 40 countries will meet in Yerevan, Armenia, from 5 to 9 September to discuss how to design and implement powerful and durable national school meals programmes. They will attend the Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF), the largest school meals conference in the world. This year, the Forum will host delegates from the governments of 25 African countries, among them 10 ministers of state.
Every year, experts, academics and representatives of governments, civil society and the private sector attend the GCNF to discuss strategies to increase the reach and the quality of school meals programmes, in order to improve the nutritional status of children and benefit smallholder farmers and local economies.
This year, the African participation follows a major mobilization around school meals on the continent. At the 2014 GCNF, held in South Africa, a group of countries led by Niger decided to create a network to strengthen national school meals initiatives. Almost one year later, in Senegal, over 20 countries formalized the creation of the African School Feeding Network, with technical support from the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger.
The first breakthrough of the network was the involvement of the African Union, which partnered with the WFP Centre and carried out a study visit to Brazil in August 2015, to learn about home-grown school meals. After the visit, the African Union recommended the adoption of school meals as a continent-wide strategy to overcome hunger and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. On 1 March, 2016, the continent celebrated the first ever Africa Day of School Feeding.
“The African continent has demonstrated a strong commitment towards overcoming malnutrition through school meals. Each year at the GCNF, we witness their progress in establishing national school meals policies, so we are glad to see once more a significant involvement at this year’s event”, says Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
Source: World Food Programme