McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition

FY2016 Funding Recommendation:  
$209.5 million


Funding History


       President's FY2016 Request   

       InterAction's FY2016 Recommendation


 Key Facts

  • In the last 2 years, McGovern-Dole funding has supported school feeding programs that have benefitted 9.8 million children.

  • School feeding programs have resulted in a 46% increase in girls’ enrollment in school in the highest primary school grade. 

  • Over the past 45 years, 38 developing country governments have successfully taken over the school meal programs that had been launched by donor countries, NGOs, and international organizations, demonstrating the long-term sustainability of international investment in school feeding.

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program provides U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical assistance for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects in low income, food-deficit countries that are committed to universal education. The McGovern-Dole program provides school-age children in poverty-stricken countries with what is often their only full meal of the day, and helps protect vulnerable children and their families, especially during societal shocks.

Serving food at school helps solve chronic hunger and can be life-changing for the world’s poorest children. School meals also help get students into the classroom, giving them an important key to a better future: an education. In areas where enrollment rates for girls are low, McGovern-Dole supported programs work with families and communities to make it possible for more girls to attend school. This sometimes includes giving girls take-home rations that encourage families to send daughters to school and also benefit younger children at home.

School meal programs are present in 130 countries and are the most widespread type of social safety net. In developing countries, effectively targeted safety net programs, such as school feeding, help maintain consistent access to food and prevent vulnerable families from falling more deeply into poverty. Further, the distribution networks of school feeding programs can be leveraged in the event of an emergency to quickly and efficiently reach children and their families with much-needed food, reducing reliance on more costly interventions.

The UN World Food Program calculates that $3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million primary school-age children that go to school hungry every day. While an investment of $209.5 million for school feeding represents a small fraction of overall global investment in school feeding programs by donor and host country governments, U.S. resources remain critical for low-income countries to continue school feeding programs. McGovern-Dole resources are also a major component of the potential U.S. Department of Agriculture contribution to implementing the U.S. Government Global Nutrition Coordination Plan, a plan which the Administration has promised to complete in 2015.

Success Story:

Nourishing children's bodies and minds

Decades before he broke the world record in the marathon, Paul Tergat would run to school each morning – three miles through his homeland, the Rift Valley of Kenya. Why? Because at school, he had a nutritious meal waiting for him, provided by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The WFP school meals program changed Paul’s life. He went from a boy who couldn’t concentrate in class to one who literally ran to and from school each day. This helped unlock his athletic talent that led him to set the marathon world record in 2003. Today, Paul has two Olympic silver medals and serves on the International Olympic Committee. But, inside him still lives the little boy who grew up in a family of 17 children and went to bed hungry each night, dreaming of the meal awaiting him at school the next day.

Hunger is a solvable problem, and school meal programs are a solution proven to work. First, school meal programs help kids lead healthier lives. They significantly reduce hunger for millions of the world’s poorest children, many of whom suffer from malnutrition. Second, these programs boost school enrollment and academic performance. Many poor families keep their children at home. When children are provided a healthy meal at school, their parents are more likely to send them to school and keep them there.

All told, school meal programs provide an impressive return on investment: Every $1 invested yields $3 in economic returns.

The United States has long played a leadership role in combating world hunger. The U.S. Agriculture Department’s McGovern-Dole Program supports international school meal programs, many of which are run by the WFP. The McGovern-Dole Program has helped feed millions of school children and boosted girls’ enrollment in school by an average of 17%.

School meal programs work. They keep kids in schools. Most importantly, they save lives, allowing poor children to survive, thrive, and achieve their dreams. Paul Tergat is living proof.

Photo Credit: Francesco Broli, World Food Programme

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