School Meal Programs Around the World

Report Based on the GCNF Global Survey of School Meal Programs ©

The Global Survey of School Meal Programs © aims to strengthen the work of the global school meal network by developing a comprehensive description of all the core aspects of large-scale school meal programs around the world. The Global Child Nutrition Foundation conducted the first survey in 2019, and will repeat it every two to three years thereafter.

The survey asks a standard set of questions to develop a baseline database on the current state of school feeding programs in all countries of the world, including those with no school feeding activities. The following report explores the survey’s findings chapter-by-chapter.

Section 1


School meal programs large and small have been implemented for decades around the world. The Global Survey of School Meal Programs © sets out to document them consistently and comprehensively. Learn more about the survey and its key findings.

Executive Summary

Section 2

Overview of School Meal Programs ©

Eighty-five of the countries that participated in the Global Survey of School Meal Programs © had a large-scale feeding program operating in their country. Choose a chapter below to explore data about coverage rates, beneficiaries, food basket diversity, funding, and more.

Chapter 1: coverage of school meal programs

chapter 2: Characteristics of beneficiaries and components of the school meal programs

chapter 3: Food Basket and Food Sources

chapter 4: Funding and Costs

chapter 5: Management and Implementation

chapter 6: Health and Nutrition

chapter 7: Infrastructure

chapter 8: Agriculture, Employment, and Community Participation

chapter 9: Monitoring and Evaluation

Chapter 10: Program Sustainability

chapter 11: Successes and Challenges

Peace begins when the hungry are fed; the future begins when the hungry are educated.”

— Gene White,
GCNF Co-Founder and School Nutrition Leader

Governments across the world must invest in grey matter infrastructure; that helps brains grow from nutrition, that builds the healthy and productive workforce of the future.”

— Dr. Akinwumi Adesina,
President of the African Development Bank

I will not rest until every child in Africa has at least two meals a day and can go to school, because then maybe they will have a chance of following in my footsteps—have a right to control their destiny.”
— Agnes Kalibata,
President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Special Envoy for 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit

The McGovern-Dole [Food for Education] program doesn’t just feed hungry children, it invests in their future potential. Supporting healthy families and improving access to education helps to combat the root causes of poverty and fosters sustainable economic growth in developing nations.”

– Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Section 3


The Global Survey of School Meal Programs © provides a high-level view of school feeding from multiple angles. Explore Chapter 12 to read key conclusions and questions that need more in-depth examination, or read Chapter 13 for perspective on how COVID-19 has impacted school feeding programs around the world.

chapter 12: conclusions, discussion and questions for further stuDy or action

chapter 13: postscript

Section 4

References and Annex

The Global Survey of School Meal Programs © led to additional analysis of data about the number of students receiving food through school meal programs, as well as the number of jobs existing in school meal programs. Explore Annex A to learn more, or read Annex B to access the survey questionnaire.

Annex A: Additional analysis

Annex b: Questionnaire

For access to data sets from the global
survey, please email

The Global Child Nutrition Foundation works with a global network of governments, businesses, and civil society organizations to support school meal programs that help children and communities thrive. GCNF provides training, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to help governments build national school meal programs that are nutritious, locally-sourced, and ultimately independent from international aid.

Mailing Address

Global Child Nutrition Foundation
P.O. Box 99435, Seattle, WA 98139


 +1 (206) 258-6749


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