More than 50 U.N. agencies and organizations have joined forces with over 60 world governments to bring back the school meal program for over 388 million primary school students who had been receiving daily lunches pre-pandemic. The coalition will also be pushing to make school meals available to the 73 million youngsters that were not getting them before COVID-19 began in 2020.
The School Meal Coalition, which will be led by France and Finland, was officially launched during a U. N. event at the start of the week. The long-term goal of the coalition will be to ensure that every child in need will receive nutritional school meals by 2030.
Jukka Salovaara, Finland’s U.N. Ambassador stated that school meals act as a social safety net across communities by being a great social equalizer. Salovaara also reports that since its formation in September, the coalition has received encouraging support.
Olivier Richard, Head of the Development Unit at The French Mission, has reportedly stated that school meals play an important role in society’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as it helps in keeping children in school and in improving their nutrition, their health, as well as their educational performance.
According to Richard, not every country will support the coalition, which makes all globally operating U.N. agencies important members of the campaign.
Five U.N. agencies have also pitched their support to the coalition in a joint declaration at the beginning of the week, expressing that through the support of school and nutrition programs the growth and development of school children, as well as adolescents can be aided and also help in fighting against child poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
The agencies include World Health Organisation (WHO), World Food Program (WFP), United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The coalition has appealed for $1.7 billion, as well as additional funding, to reach their goal by 2030.