School Feeding Programmes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia and the Pacific

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Prior to COVID-19, an estimated 129 million children received daily school meals in Asia and the Pacific region. School feeding programmes have served a range of objectives, including addressing short-term hunger among school-age children, acting as safety nets during crises, ensuring nutrition security through the provision of diversified, locally-sourced school meals and fortified food commodities, and incentivising school enrolment, attendance, and retention. 

As part of COVID-19 containment measures, in April 2020, schools were closed in all countries in the region, resulting in significant disruptions in school feeding programmes. 

Against this backdrop, the World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBB) commissioned development consulting firm Oxford Policy Management (OPM) to do a review of School Feeding programme adaptations in light of school closures, focussing especially on the emerging evidence from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. 

The researchers conducted over 105 key interviews, including stakeholders from various implementing ministries, development partners, suppliers, NGOs, and WFP staff. 

During this webinar, the findings of the study were presented. It provided insights into the alternative measures that were undertaken by governments and partners to mitigate the impacts of the unplanned school closures on SF programmes, the lessons learned from the adaptations by governments and development partners, and what the implications are for school feeding amidst the ongoing pandemic. The audience heard from governments, academia, and developing partners on their experiences through informative presentations and a lively panel conversation.

 

Panellists:

John Aylieff, Regional Director Asia and the Pacific, WFP

Maham Farhat, Consultant, Poverty & Social Protection, at Oxford Policy Management

Donald Bundy, Professor of Epidemiology and Development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Brenda Barton, WFP Country Director, Philippines 

Martin Parreno, Programme Policy Officer, WFP, Philippines

Kamani Gunaratne, Education Director School Health and nutrition branch, Ministry of Education - Government Sri Lanka

 

Moderator: 

Carmen Burbano, Director of School Based Programmes World Food Programme