Why School Lunches Are So Important

Why School Lunches Are So Important
When I think about societal crises, one that tops my list is homelessness and hunger. I grew up rough and heavily depended on our school lunch program. We had a breakfast and lunch program, and by the grace of God, I qualified for free lunch. That was at least two meals a day for me. So when I didn’t know if I would have a meal at home, I could stock up and live to see the next day. Not to mention when the lights were out or when there was no hot water to take a bath. But I digress.

Whether in the United States or abroad, school lunch is an important part of any school system. Working with children on and off throughout the years, I’ve witnessed how hunger can impact not only a child’s health but also their education.

School lunch provides students with the nutrition and energy they need to stay focused and engaged in their studies. The importance of school lunch goes beyond just providing food, it also helps to improve student attendance, reduce dropout rates, and encourage healthier eating habits. With proper school lunch programs in place, students are more likely to have better academic outcomes and reach their full potential.

School lunch also plays an important role in fighting malnutrition. By providing balanced meals, schools can ensure that all children get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and develop properly. In my country, one of the reasons why the School Feeding Programme was implemented is to combat childhood malnutrition. Although the program has helped students, the government is working to expand coverage to more schools and students outside of the current requirements for funding. The Basic School Nutrition Initiative provides a supplement to cover all students and improve lunch options so that students can have a balanced lunch. We are also working towards making the initiative sustainable by hiring locals, cultivating a school garden, and starting a poultry farm.

Public-Private Partnership & the Sustainable Development Goals in School Lunch Program

NGOs play an important role in the expansion of the School lunch program / Mid-Day Meal Scheme. The State Governments partner with NGOs to implement the Mid-Day Meal Programme in order to increase the number of children they reach out to. Thus many NGOs work towards countering hunger and malnutrition.

This Public-Private Partnership (PPP) has proved instrumental in improving the quality and reach of the programme. With the PPP model, Non-profit organisation combines good management, innovative technology and smart engineering to deliver school lunches at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in other parts of the world.

The Sustainable Development Goals(SDG) embody our highest aspirations for a better world – and reflect our greatest responsibility as a global community: To provide children and young people today with the services, skills and opportunities they need tomorrow to build better futures for themselves, their families, and their societies.

The extent to which the world delivers on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will directly affect the future of millions of children – and thus, our shared future as a global community. The SDGs are universal in scope, and their call to leave no one behind puts the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized people – including children – at the top of the agenda.44 child-related indicators are integrated across the 17 SDGs.

School meal programme endeavours to resolve Sustainable Development Goals spearheaded by the United Nations. Schools meals contribute directly and indirectly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). School lunch program is directly catering to SDGs 2, 4 and 5 and indirectly SDGs 1, 8 and 5.

SDG 2 highlights the importance of food security and nutrition. For children, this means guaranteeing their right to sufficient quantities of safe and nutritious foods. Good nutrition allows children to grow, learn and contribute to their communities while being resilient in the face of disease, disasters and other crises. Conversely, poor nutrition can compromise a child’s physical and cognitive development, often with lifelong consequences.

Most countries lack sufficient data to assess progress towards the nutrition targets – and less than 1/4 are on track to meet them.

SDG 4 focus on the importance of quality education. Every child has the right to learn. Education is fundamental to a child’s development, personal empowerment and prospects for the future. It is also a powerful instrument for change – driving equity, reducing poverty and promoting economic growth. Eradicating classroom hunger acts as a great incentive for children to attend school regularly and attend class actively.

SDG 5 emphasizes on Gender Equality. Girls struggle more than boys for access to education; one in every ten girls in the world is out of school, while with boys this figure is one in twelve (UNESCO 2015). Women and girls are also more exposed to hunger and malnutrition than boys; they represent 60 percent of all undernourished people in the world (FAO 2010). The school meals programmes can narrow these gender gaps and help break the vicious cycle of discrimination against girls.

School Meal Program is, therefore key to boosting a nation’s human capital. In a global economy requiring highly skilled workers more than ever, escaping the cycle of poverty requires eradicating child undernutrition.
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