TUNIS – Representatives of 50 countries attended a global forum for school feeding practicioners to exchange views on how to improve and scale up their national programmes.
The 20th annual Global Child Nutrition Forum was attended by approximately 300 participants, representing 50 governments, NGOs, businesses, UN agencies and institutions.
This year’s Forum is taking place from 21 – 25 October, hosted by the Tunisia Ministry for Education, and will focus on the theme National School Meal Programmes for Food and Nutrition Security and Multiple Social Benefits. The Forum is the largest annual international conference on school feeding in the world; and this is the first time it has been hosted in the Middle East and North Africa, a region which continuously demonstrates how school feeding programmes can function as platforms for multiple benefits, both in fragile environments and in more stable contexts.
“The Forum aims to highlight issues related to child nutrition around the world, foster cooperation be-tween nations and encourage countries to develop and improve school nutrition programs that return multiple benefits and address multiple Sustainable Development Goals,” remarked Arlene Mitchell, Execu-tive Director, Global Child Nutrition Foundation.
The Forum brings together leaders to share insights, experiences, and challenges; working together to advance school feeding programmes. As a result, it has become a global catalyst for school feeding development.
“Gathering high-level officials from 50 countries every year to discuss strategies to strengthen school feeding translates into stronger governmental commitment to school feeding and into positive impacts on education, health, and socio-economic indicators.” noted Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger.
David Beasley, WFP’s Executive Director, gave the keynote speech repositioning WFP’s leadership on the global stage. “School feeding programmes keep children in school, making it possible for them to be healthier and ready to learn. And when children can learn, they grow up to be healthier and more prosperous adults. Not only do they win, but their countries do too. We are committed to reaching more children in need and we will work with our government partners to do so,” he said.
In Lebanon, thanks to contributions from Italy and Canada, WFP provides daily healthy school snacks for 24,000 Lebanese and Syrian primary school children. The snack pack was designed to encourage enrolment and retention in school within vulnerable communities and contains locally-made produce. During summer holidays, WFP also runs nutrition camps where students from the school snacks programme can participate in good nutrition and health classes in an interactive environment.
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