McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program

$207.6 million*

Minimum Requirement for American Leadership

The McGovern-Dole Food for Education program facilitates the purchase by the U.S. government of U.S. agricultural commodities that are donated to food insecure countries to establish school feeding programs. These school feeding programs incentivize school attendance with nutritious meals, improving literacy and educational outcomes with what is often the only daily nutritious meal that children receive.

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Justification for Funding

  • The McGovern-Dole program gives 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.
  • Since 2003, McGovern-Dole has provided school meals to over 40 million children in 40 of the world’s poorest countries, several of which are in near-famine conditions.
  • McGovern-Dole is a small and narrowly targeted program. At just over $200 million annually, McGovern-Dole 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.

Cost of Cuts Below $207.6 Million

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       Congressional Budget   

       President's Budget Request (Base + OCO)

  • Without a reliable source of daily nutrition that McGovern-Dole can provide, young children are vulnerable both to physical stunting and reduced cognitive development. Hungry kids are less able to learn in school and could become less productive workers. Occupational opportunities often go unrealized because of a lack of qualified employees.
  • Without food provided through McGovern-Dole, children are more vulnerable to recruitment by terror groups like Al Shabab in Somalia or Boko Haram in Nigeria, who promise access to food.
  • Cuts to McGovern-Dole mean sacrificing opportunities to instill a positive view of the American government and its people among the next generations of U.S. allies.


$207.6 million

Opportunity to Catalyze American Leadership


Justification for Full Funding

  • Food insecurity is on the rise, with about 815 million people suffering from hunger in 2016 - 38 million more than in 2015. The rise in hunger figures is the consequence of an increasing number of conflicts and climate shocks, such as droughts and floods.
  • The United Nations 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.
  • Most McGovern-Dole programs are implemented over a multiyear period (3 to 5 years per grant award) that allows better planning for eventual handover to national government ownership.  

Impact of Full Funding

3 million children
The number of children that the McGovern-Dole funding fed in in 2015.

  • McGovern-Dole programs help to overcome gender inequity in school attendance. Providing meals at schools improves attendance rates, particularly among girls who would likely otherwise be kept at home to perform domestic labor.
    • A February 2016 USDA evaluation found that McGovern-Dole increased school enrollment in the Somali state of Ethiopia from 64% to 100%, and in Afar state from 35% to 60%.
    • The same evaluation found demonstrated impact in decreased gender disparities in school attendance. 95 girls enrolled for every 100 boys in schools with McGovern-Dole programs, compared to nine girls for every 100 boys in schools that did not have McGovern-Dole programs.
  • An October 2015 report on the McGovern-Dole program in Kenya found that students received roughly a third of their daily calories from school meals provided through the program.

*FY18 Senate Committee-Approved Appropriation

For more information, please contact: Sara Nitz,

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