UN report lays focus on unavailability of school meals amid global food crisis

In eight African countries, less than 10 percent of school children receive a free or subsidised meal in school: Report

Amidst a global food crisis which sees families in many countries struggling to put food on the table, a new report says governments worldwide are increasingly convinced that school meals are a powerful and cost-effective way of ensuring that vulnerable children get the food they need.

Almost 420 million children worldwide receive school meals today, according to the State of School-Feeding Worldwide report, issued by the United Nations (UN). At a time when 345 million people face crisis levels of hunger, including 153 million children and young people, school meals are a critical safety net for vulnerable children and households, the report said.

Owing to a determined effort by the governments to restore free lunch programmes following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children receiving meals globally is now 30 million higher than in 2020, representing about 41 percent of all children in school. 

But the report also highlighted differences between the rich world, where 60 percent of school children get meals, and low-income countries where only 18 percent do. While the recovery was rapid in most countries, the number of children fed in school in low-income countries is still 4 percent below pre-COVID-19 levels, with the biggest declines observed in Africa. This was despite low-income countries increasing their domestic financing for school meals by around 15% since 2020.

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