Over 250 people attended the 16th Annual Global Child Nutrition Forum in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa from September 29 to October 3, 2014. 10 ministers attended, along with more than 60 other high-level officials- 38 countries were officially represented. All 38 countries signed the Forum Communiqué, stressing that home-grown (locally-sourced) school feeding is an investment with tangible, multi-sector benefits. The communiqué also highlights nutrition and diet diversity, agriculture and purchasing from smallholder farmers, and South-South collaboration.
The presentations on the core topic, “Nutrition in School Feeding Programs” were well received and drew excellent questions and discussion. The “Nutrition and Learning” presentation by Dr. Ronald E. Kleinman (Chief of the Department of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Partners Pediatrics, and the Charles Wilder Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School) was especially thought-provoking and appreciated. The conclusions he presented were:
“Learning is affected by nutritional status throughout childhood and adolescence as the central nervous system develops […] Internal and external environmental factors, including behaviors, health and socio-economic status, interact with nutritional status to determine a child’s ability to learn and function […] School feeding programs offer the opportunity to reduce the risk of adverse external environmental factors, support good nutrition and encourage a healthy lifestyle.”
A Forum “country questionnaire” allowed us to pilot a new format and to gain information about participating countries’ school feeding programs. A few countries reported the number of jobs created through their school feeding programs. This data is very new and significant. An impressive example is from Osun State, Nigeria, where job creation (for youth and women) is an explicit goal of the “O-Meals” program. A significant number of countries report now having goals linking local farmers/ agriculture to their school meal programs.
View a video recap of the Forum here
The official communiqué is available here
The official Forum website is www.gcnf2014.org
A more comprehensive Forum report is being prepared, and will be available shortly on www.gcnf.org
From May 20-24, 2013, the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) Centre for Excellence hosted the 15th annual Global Child Nutrition Forum in Costa do Sauípe, Brazil. The conference’s theme, “School Feeding as a National Investment: How to Achieve It” gathered roughly 300 people from 41 countries, of which 21 were Ministers from the education and agriculture sectors. This was the first year the Forum was held in Latin America, following four consecutive years of being held in Africa.
The purpose of the Global Forum is to assist these leaders in starting or expanding school feeding programs linked to local farm production. The delegates represent countries developing new programs, or seeking to improve existing school feeding programs. Upon returning home they serve as resources in their countries and often for neighboring nations developing school feeding programs. The Global Forum program provides:
During the workshop portion of the Forum, country leaders are guided through the GCNF-produced, School Feeding Toolkit. The Toolkit, now in its third edition, includes goal setting, diagnosis of key issues that influence program development, needs assessment, and worksheets. The country leaders prepare country-specific plans for developing their school feeding programs and when they return home they begin the work of implementing the plan they developed during the Forum.
The School Feeding Toolkit is a planning instrument that assists countries, through ongoing review and revisions, to meet changing country needs. Its purpose is to help country leaders and stakeholders establish sustainable school feeding programs that respond to local needs, cultures, and traditions. Thus, rather than a prescriptive guide, the Toolkit serves as a flexible instrument to help leaders work together in developing programs that respond to country needs.