FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

FAO study found extensive benefits of school feeding programmes and their links with family farming

Study in 8 Latin American countries showed the progress and challenges of school feeding programmes as a strategy for children’s nutrition, food security and learning.

FAO study found extensive benefits of school feeding programmes and their links with family farming

Los programas de alimentación escolar cubren al 85 % del total de los estudiantes en los ocho países estudiados.

Brasilia, Brazil, 22nd of August 2013 – A study prepared by FAO in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru showcases the importance of school feeding programmes on school children’s social protection, food security and nutrition.

A new FAO publication (Spanish only), “A Panorama of School Feeding and the Possibilities for Direct Purchases from Family Farming – Case Studies in Eight Countries” indicates that these programmes promote the permanence of children in school and bolsters their learning process. Moreover, all countries studied showed interest in obtaining their food supplies from family farmers, fostering local development.

“This is a triple winner solution: it secures quality food for students of public schools, promoting the consumption of fresh and healthy food, it opens new markets and the possibility of higher income for family farmers while boosting local development”, said the Director General of FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva.

The area covered by the regional study includes 18 million students of different ages and educational levels.

The budget for the school feeding programmes reaches approximately US$ 940 million, representing an annual net investment of US$ 25 per student. Funding is primarily destined for the purchase and distribution of food.

Growing political commitment

Governments' commitment to school feeding programmes has grown in the region. According to the study, almost all countries are interested in implementing the policy of direct purchases of small producers to supply school feeding programs.

However, FAO reports that legal and regulatory frameworks are required to facilitate the integration of small producers in the group of State suppliers.

"The study shows that tackling the challenges of school feeding programs demands the involvement of various social actors, including governments, parliamentarians, international organizations, private sector, the educational community and civil society," said the coordinator of the study, Najla Veloso.

Brazil-FAO Programme

The study on school feeding programmes was supported by the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation Programme, responsible for a series of activities aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Brazilian experience with school feeding programmes has a 50 year history. In 2012, it included almost 45 million students in basic education.

“The Brazilian Government is ready to contribute to the developments and improvements of school feeding programmes not only in Latin America, but also in Africa”, said Albaneide Peixinho, Brazil’s School Feeding National Programme (PNAE/FNDE) general coordinator.

Based on the advances shown by school feeding programmes in several countries in the region, FAO and the Government of Brazil recommend that the political commitment shown by countries translate into concrete school feeding policies and institutions to guarantee the quality and nutritional value of food in schools.


- The great majority of programmes don’t cover teenager and adult students.

- Students receive food during 150 days per year, on average.

- The total budget devoted for these programs in the studied countries reached US$ 940 million (2011-2012).

- These budgets are spent primarily on food purchase, storage and distribution costs.

- It is necessary to improve infrastructure, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation.