With 80 million Latin American and Caribbean students benefiting and 14 years of implementation in the region, the partnership between Brazil and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is entering a new phase.
Brasilia, Brazil, November 7, 2023 – With the aim of presenting the results and impacts of the 14-year international cooperation in school feeding for Latin America and the Caribbean between the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), the National Fund for Educational Development (FNDE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the international event “School Feeding in Latin America and the Caribbean: History and Perspectives” will take place on November 13 and 14 in Brasilia, Brazil.
The meeting will involve around 50 representatives from the governments of 20 countries in the region, including directors of school feeding programmes, deputy ministers of education, and technicians. Participants will include Belize, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, and Venezuela, as well as representatives from CARICOM and CELAC.
A review of the activities and achievements of this international collaboration will be presented, along with promoting dialogue among countries about the next steps in the region, including the expansion of activities and the countries participating in the Sustainable School Feeding Network (RAES), for a new cooperation cycle from 2024 to 2027.
Brazil-FAO Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean
The Brazil-FAO International Cooperation Programme promotes school feeding policies from the perspective of the human right to adequate food and has benefited more than 80 million Latin American and Caribbean students.
With cooperation support, six countries – Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Paraguay – have passed school feeding laws following Brazil’s example. Additionally, over 40,000 professionals from various countries have been trained through numerous in-person and virtual actions, and more than 9,000 family farmers in the region have joined school feeding programmes through the purchase of their production for these programmes.
The Sustainable Schools methodology, a result of this cooperation, has been adopted by 23,000 schools in Latin America and the Caribbean, promoting universal coverage of school feeding, healthy habits, the implementation of food and nutritional education actions, and the consumption of fresh foods from family farming.
The methodology’s proposed process involves regional coordination by bringing together public officials from various levels of government, school directors, nutritionists, and various professionals from the school community of countries in the region that have been involved in this cooperation.
Created in 2018 by the Government of Brazil with FAO support, the network aims to assist Latin American and Caribbean countries in the implementation and reformulation of school feeding programmes from the perspective of access and the guarantee of the human right to adequate food. The initiative also seeks to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Combating Hunger and Malnutrition
School feeding is a strategic public policy in the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide. In Latin America and the Caribbean, according to 2022 FAO data, stunted growth affects 5.7 million children under five in the region (11.5%). It is important to note that this is especially prevalent in children whose mothers belong to the lowest income sectors, and have not received formal education. Similarly, overweight affects 4.2 million children under five (8.6%), which is 3 percentage points above the global average.
In this context, school feeding programmes offer benefits such as improving the nutrition and health of millions of children, adolescents, and young people; reducing school absenteeism, which is common in children from more vulnerable families; and ensuring better conditions for cognitive development. Additionally, school feeding policies, in partnership with local purchases of products from family farming, will play a central role in Brazil’s proposal to discuss, within the framework of the G20 in 2024, the creation of a Global Alliance against Hunger and Poverty.