Original article written by Professor Donald Bundy and co-authored by Carmen Burbano,in the World Bank Blog, Investing In Health.



March 8 marks the first celebration ofInternational School Meals Day. New evidence suggests that today around 370 million children will eat a meal at school.


This first school meals celebration happens to fall on International Women's Day, which is particularly fitting as one of the most striking benefits of school feeding is more girls attending school.

School Meals - A Social Safety Net

School feeding does not just bring benefits for education. It is one of the ways that countries can ensure that the most vulnerable children have a protective safety net; that is, they will receive a meal at school even if they can’t be fed at home.

Good school feeding programmes are a major part of the way the world looks after its vulnerable children, enhances girls' access to education and promotes good dietary habits.



Home Grown School Feeding

International School Meals Day, isan initiative led by the US and UK andis designed to raise awareness of the importance of food and nutrition to education, in this spirit of sharing global experiences it is worth examing a government led movement in sub-Saharan Africa, Home Grown School Feeding, which is focused on benefiting both schoolchildren and smallholder farmers by creating a stable, structured market for local produce.

The agriculture team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided leadership in helping these women benefit from the school feeding market, especially through support to the Purchase For Progress programme of WFP and the HGSF initiaitveof the Partnership for Child Development.

The advantages of linking local agriculture and school feeding are substantial: more prosperous smallholder farmers, with a more secure future; stronger rural communities, with more stable economies; with an increased demand for local, fresh food; and healthier, happier children.
Read the original article, School Meals Benefit Women and Girls Around the World, inWorld Bank Blog Investing in Health, News and Views in Healthy Development.