The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program provides U.S. agricultural commodities and financial and technical assistance to food-insecure countries to establish school feeding programs.
What does it buy?
McGovern-Dole improves child nutrition, maternal health, and access to quality education. It promotes literacy through support for teachers and libraries, school improvement, and faculty and administrator training. The program also funds training in health and nutrition practices and increases access to safe water, sanitation services, and improved sanitary facilities.
Why is it important?
Nutritious meals incentivize school attendance. In communities suffering from chronic hunger, McGovern-Dole lunches are a powerful incentive for parents to send their children to classes regularly since these lunches are often the only meal these children receive each day.
McGovern-Dole programs bring girls into classrooms. McGovern-Dole includes various strategies aimed at getting families to send their girls to school, such as providing takehome rations to families whose girls regularly attend school.
Since 2003, these funds have provided school meals to over 40 million children in 40 of the world’s lowest-income countries, several of which are in near-famine conditions.
Educated 21,353 teachers, helping them create dynamic classrooms and improve literacy.
Rehabilitated or created 2,926 facilities, including latrines, kitchens, handwashing stations, storerooms, and classrooms to reduce student absenteeism.
In F.Y. 2018, McGovern-Dole reached nearly4.4 million direct beneficiaries.
Why should Americans care?
By providing U.S. agricultural commodities, McGovern-Dole supports American farmers and shippers.
McGovern-Dole prevents children and youth from falling under the control of groups like al-Shabaab in Somalia or Boko Haram in Nigeria, which promise access to food. Preventing youth radicalization leads to increased stability in regions of the world that are important to U.S. strategic interests and national security.
In response to COVID-19 disruptions, many programs have adapted to provide nutrition to students even when schools are closed. For example, in Guatemala, PCI, A Global Communities Partner, has mobilized the McGovern-Dole program—EDUCAMOS—to adapt activities to COVID-19.
With schools closed, EDUCAMOS has made food available as take-home rations to help families maintain their children’s nutrition.
PCI is also working with the Government of Guatemala and parent-teacher associations to support COVID-19 prevention and detection messaging in communities where EDUCAMOS is being implemented.
What more could be done?
The 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. Additional investment would help reach more of these children.
Additional investment could allow McGovern-Dole programs to support more communities and families in times of drought or shock when school feeding programs often act as the first line of defense against hunger.
With additional investment, McGovern-Dole programs could further incorporate more locally-grown food through the USDA’s Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement (LRP) program. LRP combats malnutrition while stimulating the local economy and creating incentives for the host government to sustain the program.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.