McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition
FY2017 Funding Recommendation:
President's FY2017 Request
InterAction's FY2017 Recommendation
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 Programme 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 in FY2017 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.
Food for Knowledge in Mozambique
Orlando is a soft-spoken fourth grader who lives in the Maputo Province of Mozambique. He enjoys school and especially loves studying mathematics. He hopes to become excellent at math so that he can be a teacher himself someday.
Though Orlando is making good progress academically, he was not always the energetic student he is now.
“Orlando sometimes wouldn’t come to school,” said Ilda Ismael Chicuanba, Orlando’s teacher at Pfungurene Primary School. “We would have to keep up after him and in the classroom he would not be very involved.”
Pfungurene Primary School is located 90 kilometers from Maputo. Many of the women in the area grow food while the men have mostly emigrated in search of work.
When the Food for Knowledge Project was launched at his school in 2012, Orlando began receiving a daily porridge meal, made of a protein-rich corn-soy blend. “Now, with the meals, he has the desire to come to school,” said Ilda. “Now, he even helps other children in the classroom.”
Orlando says he is less tired in class because of the daily meal. The food gives him energy to play soccer with his friends and keep up with his studies.
Orlando is one of the thousands of children in Mozambique who are benefitting from this program funded by USDA’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program and implemented by Planet Aid. The project has already provided more than 12 million meals to students, and will ultimately help more than 87,000 children by the end of 2020.
The headmaster of Orlando’s school, Sonia Carlota Damião, emphasizes that the project has had a positive effect on the entire school. “The students don’t fall behind anymore, they don’t drop out, they go to school very regularly, and they have more energy,” she says. Thirty more students at the school have enrolled since the program started. Similar increases have occurred at other Food for Knowledge schools.
While the meals have had tremendous impact, they are not enough to address the multiple challenges faced by school children in Mozambique. That is why Food for Knowledge is doing more than providing school meals. This unique, holistic program is addressing nutrition and education needs by training more than 7,000 teachers, while also educating communities about proper nutrition, enhancing infrastructure, establishing school gardens and literacy clubs, and building local capacity so that the impacts are sustainable beyond the project timeline.
At Orlando’s school, for example, the project built a new kitchen and new latrines, and there is now a tap available for clean water. Teachers also received training in nutrition essentials, hygiene, and how to organize clubs and special events to promote literacy.
Because of Food for Knowledge, students like Orlando have the chance to get a healthier start on life. He is just one of millions of children whose path to education has been made possible because of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.
Photo: Planet Aid