School meals play a critical role in children’s lives. They are an essential intervention in development and humanitarian contexts, proven to have long-lasting impacts across multiple Sustainable Development Goals and sectors, including food security, nutrition and health, education, water and sanitation, child protection, gender equality, and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. They are at the juncture of the right to food, the right to health and the right to education. They also offer enormous potential for the catalysation of food systems, with nutritious, locally-grown and appropriate foods, creation of jobs and contributions towards livelihoods, among other benefits. Civil society organisations have an essential role to play in supporting school meals programmes globally through collective advocacy, technical assistance, capacity sharing and fostering partnerships.
We commend the countries who have made concrete commitments to the School Meals Coalition, and the progress made to date. Yet, much more needs to be done. Therefore, ahead of the School Meals Coalition Ministerial Meeting in Paris, we as Civil Society Organisations have come together with a Call to Action:
We call upon governments to expand and improve their programmes, in the following ways:
For governments who are not members of the School Meals Coalition to join.
For governments who are already members of the School Meals Coalition to make ambitious commitments.
For governments who are members of the School Meals Coalition and have made commitments, to ensure their national school meals programmes are adequately financed, equitable, inclusive and effectively delivered.
We call upon donors to increase their interest, cooperation, and financing of nutritious school meals, with a focus on the lowest-income countries and conflict- affected and fragile states/humanitarian crises.
We urge all governments to develop and commit to improving the quality and efficiency of school meal programmes to meet children’s nutritional requirements, especially through home-grown, climate smart, and sustainable solutions.
Governments and their partners must prioritise access and equity for children, ensuring that national programmes are gender responsive and prioritise access for vulnerable groups, including children with disabilities and children affected by conflict.
We as CSOs boldly commit to supporting National Governments. We commit to long-term strategic support to galvanise CSO collaboration at the local, national and global levels to ensure governments make commitments, deliver on them and reach their goals.