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Centre of Excellence against Hunger News

News from the Centre of Excellence against Hunger.

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger launched on 4 November the Portuguese versions of the first three studies that compose the Food and Social Policies Series. The series focuses on the public procurement of food in Brazil and its impacts on food and nutrition security and smallholder farming.

The studies bring new data and analysis on two Brazilian government programmes that buy food from smallholder farmers, the National School Feeding Programme and the Food Acquisition Programme. The research was conducted by the WFP Centre of Excellence in partnership with independent consultants, the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The first study, “Food supply and public food procurement in Brazil: a history”, was elaborated by researchers Francisco Menezes, Silvio Isoppo, and Cátia Grisa. The study shows the repeated food crises that Brazil faced throughout its history and presents the different public food procurement experiences of the Brazilian government.

The second research was conducted by FGV and presents the different modalities of public food purchase through the National School Feeding Programme and the Food Acquisition Programme. It highlights the modifications in the public procurement legislation that made it possible for smallholder farmers to sell their produce to public institutions, including schools. The study, “Modalities of public food procurement from smallholder farmers in Brazil”, was prepared by researchers Mauro Lopes and Armando Fornazier.

“Scale of public food procurement in Brazil”, the third study, was conducted by IPC-IG. It provides an estimate of the amount of food bought in Brazil by the government, including federal, state and municipal. Researchers Rovane Schwengber, Eduardo Pontual Ribeiro, Fábio Veras Soares, and Rodrigo Octávio Orair elaborated the study.

The series was launched at the Brazilian National Conference on Food and Nutritional Security. “The PNAE and PAA combined represent the largest structured demand for smallholder farmers in Brazil. The two programmes connect large and predictable demand for food to the farmers, which increases their income, and offer healthier food to populations vulnerable to food insecurity”, said Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre.

The books are available in Portuguese for download following the links below, but they will be translated into English and French in the next couple of months.

Food supply and public food procurement in Brazil: a history

Modalities of public food procurement from smallholder farmers in Brazil

Scale of public food procurement in Brazil

The series presents two experiences of public food procurement in Brazil and their impacts on food and nutrition security and smallholder agriculture.

Every year, the Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF) issues a Communiqué with considerations and recommendations agreed upon by all participants. The Communiqué is an important advocacy tool of the Forum that provides guidelines for participating countries to move forward with the design and implementation of sustainable school feeding programmes.

This year, the GCNF gathered 250 people representing 42 countries. Every night, after the Forum’s regular activities, a group of 20 people, led by the Centre of Excellence’s consultant Nadia Goodman, worked on a Communiqué to summarize the main discussions and conclusions of the Forum. The result was a two-page document that was presented to the event’s plenary on the last day for approval.

The Communiqué is now available in English, Portuguese and French on the Centre’s webpage. It considers school feeding programmes as an important tool to ensure the right to food, to contribute to the development of human capital in the countries, to empower smallholder farmers, and to boost local economies. It also recognizes that multisectorial approach, good governance and accountability are essential for the effectiveness of school feeding programmes.

The Communiqué recommends that all governments ensure legal and institutional frameworks for the implementation of sustainable school feeding programmes, including dedicated budget lines. It encourages civil society participation in the mobilization of resources and the implementation of the programmes.

The main theme of the Forum was innovative financing for school feeding. Through the Communiqué, participants recommend public-private partnerships and strengthening south-south and international cooperation to improve overseas development aid flows. They also state that the countries and their partners should establish a timeline for transitioning from externally assisted to country-owned school feeding programmes.

The 2015 Global Child Nutrition Forum happened from 28 September to 2 October, in Sal Island, Cabo Verde. It was organized by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation and the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, with support from the government of Cabo Verde.

Download the GCNF 2015 Communiqué




Endorsed by representatives of the 42 countries participating in the event, the GCNF Communiqué recommends countries to have dedicated budget lines for school feeding

Cabo Verde was chosen to host the 2015 Global Child Nutrition Forum due to its experience in transitioning from programmes conducted entirely by international institutions to a country-owned national school feeding programme. Besides hosting the Forum and financing part of the event, the government of Cabo Verde shared its successful school feeding experience with participating countries.

The minister of Education and Sports of Cabo Verde, Fernanda Marques, who accompanied the five days of event in Sal Island, presented the country’s school feeding programme. According to her, the programme covers all public schools in the nine inhabited islands of the country. The UN recently declared that Cabo Verde was one of the countries in the African continent that accomplished the Millenium Development Goal related to education, with 98,7 percent of the kids enrolled in the 417 public schools. The population up to 25 years of age is entirely literate. Residual illiteracy index is 10,2 percent of the 500,000 inhabitants, but it is concentrated among the elderly.

Fernanda Marques, minister of Education and Sports of Cabo Verde, at the GCNF closing ceremony

Photo: WFP/Isadora Ferreira


“School feeding is an issue deeply related to the development of the country, and this is why the government commits the necessary budget to implement the School Feeding and Health Programme”, explained the minister. The totality of the school feeding funds are covered by the country’s national budget. They still receive technical assistance from UN agencies, such as the WFP and FAO, but the implementation of the programme is the government’s responsibility.

The minister highlighted the inter-sectorial articulation for the implementation of the school feeding programme. Besides the Ministry of Education and Sports, are also directly involved in the programme the ministries of Health, of Rural Development, and of Youth, Labor, and Human Resources Development.

The partnership with the Ministry of Rural Development is particularly interesting. The Ministry provides credit for smallholder farmers to improve their production. Instead of selling their produce in the regular market to get the necessary money to pay the loans, the farmers provide part of the production to the schools, and the value is deducted from their debts.

Currently, the food used in school for the preparation of meals is purchased in two different modalities. One is centralized and buys food items that are not produced in the islands, such as rice, beans, pasta. The other modality is decentralized and buys fresh food, produced in the country. They are now conducting pilot projects in five regions to increase local food procurement.

The infrastructure of the schools in Cabo Verde is good. Since the country’s independence, 40 years ago, the governments decided to prioritize investments in education. “The only wealth of Cabo Verde is its citizens”, explained the minister.

In this period, the number of schools increased 10 times. They are all equipped with kitchens, but the Ministry of Education and Sports is now piloting centralized kitchens in neighborhoods where there can be some gains in scale. “I know that other countries chose to have decentralized kitchens, but in our context it makes sense to try a different approach. This is why it is so important for the governments to discuss and learn about different experiences so we can find our own solutions to the challenges we all face”.

Visit to schools

As part of the GCNF activities, the 250 participants divided into groups to visit five schools of the Sal Island. One of the groups went to the fishing community of Pedra de Lume, where they visited the Ildo Lobo School. Ildo Lobo was a famous Cabo Verde singer who was born in Pedra de Lume.

Lunch time at Ildo Lobo School, in Sal Island

Photo: WFP/Isadora Ferreira


The school teaches 44 kids, from 4 to 12 years of age – which means from kindergarten to the sixth grade. Every week, they receive from FICASE (Cape-Verdean Foundation for School Social Action) the menu that will be prepared by the local cook. The FICASE’s nutritionist, Lenira Monteiro, prepares the menus. They are based on the World Health Organization’s recommendations and provide 20 percent of the nutritional needs of the children.

“We also try to respect the local culture, so the meals are always based on what the population likes to eat. For example, every 15 days, the cook can prepare the cachupa, a traditional dish made with beans, maize, fish and enriched with vegetables and meat. The students even contribute to the dish, bringing maize and other items from home”, explains Lenira.

“When I was studying to become a nutritionist in Brazil, whenever the professors mentioned school feeding I kept thinking about the school meals a used to eat when I was a kid in Cabo Verde and wondered what could I do to improve our school feeding programme. When I came back to Cabo Verde, I applied for this job with FICASE and now I’m being able to fulfill my dreams: I am working to diversify the school meals and to include fresh food, like fruits and vegetables”, tells Lenira.

The school manager, Iolanda Monteiro Lima, says that all schools in Sal Island follow the same menu and the same standards in the preparation of meals. She highlights, however, that in her school all the kids eat together and they all, even the younger ones, are thought how to use tableware. “Our school is small, the students are few, therefore our food tastes better”.

The school cook, Ema Alice Fernandes, works at the school for seven years. “Why? Because I am a good cook, and I have two kids studying here”. Besides the cachupa, she says that the kids’ favorite dish is spaghetti, with fish, meat or chicken.

Cabo Verde presented its successful school feeding experience to the 250 participants of the 2015 Global Child Nutrition Forum

Representatives from over 40 countries gathered on Sal Island, Cabo Verde, for the XVII Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF), from 28 September to 2 October. The 250 participants discussed innovative financing for national-scale school feeding programmes, linked to smallholder farming. They also debated on different approaches to make sure that each of their countries could design new school feeding programmes or improve existing ones.

Three aspects were highlighted as essential for finding sustainable resources for the school feeding programmes. The first was a multi-sectorial approach. Being able to involve different ministries and stakeholders in the country, mobilizing NGOs and the international community, and getting the private sector on board are key to making it possible for the governments to access the necessary funds to implement school feeding programmes.

The minister of Education of Lesotho, Ms. Agnes Mahali Phamtose, for example, shared with participants the country’s recent experience. Lesotho is a mountainous country, which poses some difficulties for agricultural production and food transportation. They created a school feeding unit to manage the programme. To avoid having to transport school food around the country, they decided to foster food production next to the schools. “To do so, I had to articulate with 10 different ministries, including Energy, Health, Social Development, Small Businesses, and Finance, otherwise the farmers would not be able to improve their production”.

The second aspect highlighted at GCNF was the need of having concrete results to show to potential financers, whether they are external donors or the governments themselves. These results include the obvious educational impacts, such as enrolment, attendance and performance of students. They also include the less obvious ones, such as impacts on health, nutrition and sanitation of the children and their families, and increase in agricultural production and in the income of smallholder farmers.

The minister of Maternal and Primary Education of Benin, Ms. Eléonore Ladekan, told that the school feeding programme helped decrease child labor exploitation and premature marriage, promoted school attendance, and improved nutritional education. She also said that in her country, the school feeding is an important tool to increase girls’ access to school.

The third aspect necessary to secure sustainable finance sources for school feeding is accountability. It shows to potential financers, internal or external, that the money for school feeding is efficiently spent and that there is no waste. Participants stressed the importance of the participation of civil society, especially parents committees, in overseeing resource disbursements for the schools.

2030 Agenda

GCNF participants visit school in Sal Island, Cabo Verde

Photo: WFP/Isadora Ferreira


School feeding is a fundamental element in the promotion of development. With the recent approval by the United Nations of the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the GCNF participants underlined the connection of school feeding with the 2030 Agenda. “In this journey of eliminating hunger and poverty, no one can work alone. We are doing it together, and no borders can stop us”, said Gene White, founder of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation.

Daniel Balaban, director of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, stated: “the 2030 Agenda sets a wide-range of ambitious goals aimed at promoting a new type of development that is inclusive and seeks to revert the trend of environmental degradation. It has been argued that the new SDGs are over ambitious and too broad, but I would say that if we don’t dare on our aspirations we tend to be stuck with unsatisfying solutions”.

Barbara Noseworthy, Assistant Executive Director of WFP, participated in the event for the second time and said: “although we made significant progress in recent years, there are still millions of children undernourished. School feeding programmes are essential for the world to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, which refers to Zero Hunger, but they also contribute to building stability within the countries, to improving health, to ensuring children receive education, and to strengthen agriculture”.

The Global Child Nutrition Forum was organized by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation and the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, with the support and cooperation of the Government of Cabo Verde. Every year, the Forum offers technical assistance to developing countries interested in creating, developing and expanding nutrition-based school feeding programmes linked to smallholder farming. 

Multi-sectorial approach, concrete results and accountability were highlighted as key to finding sustainable resources for homegrown school feeding programmes

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger supported the participation of five African countries in the Global Forum on Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection Programs: Towards Partnerships for Development. The event took place in Moscow, Russia, on 10 and 11 September. The government delegations of The Gambia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mozambique, composed by high-level and technical officials, had the chance to share case studies to contribute to the Forum’s discussions and to work with WFP Centre on planning upcoming cooperation activities.

The government of Ethiopia presented the country’s Productive Safety Net and Household Asset Building project. The Centre of Excellence presented case studies about the Brazilian Zero Hunger strategy, the National School Feeding Programme, and the benefits of decentralization in the management of social protection programmes.

The participation of the five countries in the Forum is part of the Partnership for National Social Development Initiatives (PNSDI), a partnership between the WFP Centre, DFID and Brazilian Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS), aiming at providing technical support and facilitating South-South Cooperation in food security-related social protection programmes for African countries. The initiative supported the participation of the involved countries as a way to stress the importance of south-south dialogue and to include their experiences into the global debate.

A side meeting with the PNSDI countries happened during the Global Forum. Brazil, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia met to share current activities on the Partnership, as well as next steps. The Global Forum context made it easier for the countries to identify areas of cooperation and understand PNSDI objectives in facilitating this kind of exchange among the countries. Mr Graciano Langa, Deputy Director for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Action in Mozambique, stated that this is a good moment to cooperate, as the country is starting the implementation of the second social action strategy and reviewing evaluation results.

Kenya and The Gambia are working on unified information systems similar to the Brazilian Cadastro Unico, while Ethiopia is using its experience with safety nets in rural areas to tackle poverty and hunger in urban areas. MDS Secretary for Food and Nutrition Security, Arnoldo de Campos, stressed the message that it is a priority for the government of Brazil to cooperate and support other countries facing challenges to fight hunger and poverty. The Brazilian experience on overcoming those problems, as well as the WFP Centre's capacity to facilitate dialogue and deliver technical support were recognized as important tools for the governments to achieve their objectives.

The next PNSDI activity is a visit of Kenyan government officials to Brazil aiming at gaining knowledge on Cadastro Unico, cisterns programme, school feeding and governance of social programmes.


The Centre has also contributed to the Global Forum debates. Daniel Balaban, director of the Centre, participated in a panel to discuss what is being done by the global community in the nutrition and social protection sectors to tackle malnutrition. In a different working group, he presented the home-grown school feeding strategy, as part of the debate on ways to strengthen social protection programs and to develop capacities in the design of nutrition-sensitive programs. 

Arnoldo de Campos, from MDS, presented the Brazilian experiences with zero hunger in a panel that aimed at promoting understanding about the BRICS national policies and programmes on nutrition-sensitive social protection and a common approach and south-south cooperation on social protection and nutrition.

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger and five African countries participated in the Global Forum on Nutrition-Sensitive Social Protection Programs: Towards Partnerships for Development, in Moscow, Russia

A delegation of 20 representatives of the African Union, including state ministers, visited Brazil in the last week of August to discuss school feeding. They came to see first-hand the Brazilian experiences of linking school feeding to smallholder farmers’ production. All the information they gathered here will be used as inspiration to the development of a school feeding strategy to the entire African continent.

The interest of the African Union in school feeding as a mechanism to promote social and economic development is due, mainly, to the articulation of two stakeholders: the minister of Education of Niger, Ali Mariama Elhadji Ibrahim, and the commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga. They were in Brazil and gave an interview to the Centre of Excellence.

Minister Ali Mariama Elhadji Ibrahim

Minister of Education of Niger visits rural school in Brazil

Photo: WFP/Mariana Rocha

The minister of Education of Niger saw in home-grown school feeding a means to achieve social development and counted on the support of the Centre of Excellence against Hunger to prepare an implementation plan for their school feeding programme. The experience was successful, especially regarding the south-south cooperation process with Brazil. The minister decided to mobilise other ministers of education to create a school feeding network. At first, the network would gather francophone African countries, but the interest was so intense that over 20 countries sealed their intention to exchange experiences among themselves to improve their school feeding programmes. Read the minister’s interview below.

Centre – Minister, why did Niger decided to invest in school feeding?

Niger faces food crises with repercussions on the communities and on the students’ attendance and performance. The school feeding initiative in Niger began with the World Food Programme (WFP), but a few years ago the government decided to take on the responsibility on this issue. School feeding helped improve school attendance and students’ performance, especially in the rural areas. The good results encourage us to increase the school feeding programme and to adopt an innovative model.

Centre – What model?

The main innovation is the purchase of food items produced by smallholder farmers. In 2014, the school feeding programme bought 800 metric tons of food from family farmers. This increases the farmers’ income and make it possible for the programme to provide healthy meals for the students.

Centre – What was the role of the Centre of Excellence in this process?

The Centre provided support and technical assistance for the development of an action plan to implement the school feeding programme in Niger. It also provided capacity building to the government’s technicians. The partnership with the Centre put us in touch with the Brazilian experiences.

Centre – Why is it important to exchange experiences with Brazil?

I am very impressed with the work conducted in Brazil, not only in school feeding but also in the communities we visited. We saw men and women engaged in improving the food and nutrition security of the students and of the entire community. We are impressed by the articulation of stakeholders and institutions, from the federal level through the municipal and community levels. The result of this joint effort is the improvement of Brazilian socio-economic indicators.

Centre – What are the next steps?

We want to implement a similar initiative in Niger and, through the school feeding programme, engage the communities to provide their produce to the programme and improve their livelihoods.

Centre – And for the African continent?

The continental perspectives look good. This study visit, with ministers of various countries and from different areas, shows the political will to do something for the entire continent, to do something for the countries to adopt the school feeding strategy and to be inspired by the Brazilian experience. We are happy with the involvement of the Commissioner, who will be able to share the results of this study visit with the heads of state of the African Union.

Commissioner Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga

Commissioner Ikounga visits public school at lunch time

Photo: WFP/Mariana Rocha

The mobilization initiated by the minister of Niger aroused the interest of the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Ikounga, who believes in the potential of education and training as a development mechanism for the African peoples. He decided to take the opportunity to obtain a consensus about a continental strategy for school feeding at the meeting of African ministers to be held in October.

Centre - Commissioner, why the visit to Brazil?

The issue of school meals is very important. Certainly there are many countries in Africa with an accumulated experience in this area, but what Brazil has done in this area caught our attention. The fact that the country has come out of the hunger map on such a short time is spectacular. Brazil's situation was very similar to that of many African countries, so we consider important to go beyond Africa to learn with different experiences.

Centre - How did this mobilization happen?

The idea was launched by a group of ministers of Education. We discussed with the World Food Programme and ministers who already had participated in study visits to Brazil organized by the Centre of Excellence. We identified two key learnings. The first is that school feeding reduces food stress, and well-nourished children learn better. The second is that the Brazilian program is based on local food production.

Center - What was the highlight of the visit to Brazil?

We saw all the infrastructure that is behind the implementation of the programme: the organization of school canteens, the legal framework, the involvement of the federation, the states and the municipality. This says something about the model of distribution and use of wealth throughout the country. We also witnessed the implementation of the law that states that 30 percent of the federal budget for school feeding should be used to buy food from family farmers. We know that some sites fully comply with the law and others don’t, but we saw that something is being done. Another good experience is the school garden because children invest time in food production and it should be a source of pride for them to see on their plates the food that they themselves produced. But the great lesson concerns the ministers of Education. We should demand from the ministers school feeding policies, improve relations with other ministries and request the support of the country governments.

Center - What is the role of the African Union?

The Committee on Human Resources, Science and Technology will develop a multidisciplinary work to do something for all the African countries. The first step will be a study of viability on the aspects that allowed Brazil to achieve such success: assistance to farmers, funding. We have seen that we need to have governmental resources for this type of action, as well as national legislation and political will. We appreciate the fact that in Brazil the school feeding is a national public policy that goes beyond political parties, which explains the great social participation in the programme.

Representatives of the African Union that were in Brazil for a study visit gave an interview to the Centre of Excellence and talked about their growing interest in school feeding as a mechanism to promote social and economic development.

Political will and multi-sectorial coordination can make a huge difference. With this impression and full of inspiration, the members of the African Union delegation left Brazil last Friday after a one-week study visit to discuss school feeding as a key strategy to promote development.

“Being in Brazil was a great opportunity and we took the most of it”, said at the closing session the head of the delegation, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, African union’s Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology.

The Commissioner announced that the next steps will be presenting the results of the mission in Brazil to the African ministers of Education, Agriculture, and Social Affairs, at the ministerial meeting that will happen in October this year. The objective is for the African Union to take ownership of the issue and to adopt a continental initiative on school feeding. To achieve this goal, the Commissioner announced that the African Union will formalize a cooperation agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence against Hunger.

“This is probably the most important moment of the four years of the Centre of Excellence against Hunger. Up to now, we have been working individually with each country, many of them African countries. With this partnership with the African Union, we will count on a continental leadership that will boost our mobilization capacity and the reach of our work. We hope to see very soon the entire African continent investing in national school feeding programmes”, said the director of the Centre of Excellence, Daniel Balaban.

Trip to Brazil

Delegation visits rural school

Photo: WFP/Mariana Rocha


The African union delegation was in Brasília from 22 to 30 August to see first-hand the Brazilian National School Feeding Programme (PNAE). The study visit was organized by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, the WFP African Union, WFP Niger, and the WFP Regional Office in Dakar. It counted on the participation of 17 countries of the African Union, besides representatives of the World Food Programme.

During the week, the group met the Brazilian minister of Social Development and Fight against hunger, Tereza Campello. “We live a moment of fraternal closeness with Africa and we have plenty to share among our countries”, said Ms. Campello. She highlighted the importance of political will and of simple solutions to overcome hunger. She mentioned the Brazilian experience of procuring food produced by smallholder farmers to supply the school feeding programme as an example of an effective and successful way to achieve food security. The acquisition of food from smallholder farmers for the school feeding programme is determined by law in Brazil and it promotes local development and boost the country’s economy.

“It is possible to change, it is possible not to treat hunger and poverty as natural. The State has to step up, if we don’t stablish this priority as a government’s goal nothing can be done”, added Ms. Campello.

Later, at the Ministry of Agrarian Development, the delegation was received by the acting minister, Maria Fernanda Ramos Coelho, and had the opportunity to know details of the Food Acquisition Programme (PAA), which buys food from smallholder farmers and distributes to social assistance institutions that take care of vulnerable or food insecure populations.

At the Ministry of Education, the acting minister, Luiz Claudio Costa, reminded the delegation that the school feeding programme in Brazil also started with a model based on international aid, with partners such as WFP, UNICEF and USAID, back in the 1950’s, and moved to a national model only in the 1990’s.

Costa also highlighted the importance of the partnerships between Brazil and African countries. “We have learned a great deal with the African countries and we have provided support to the development of technical capacities in the continent”, he said. According to him, after overcoming hunger, Brazil’s next challenge is to fight obesity, growing fast in the country. “We are assessing the possibility of launching a healthy school canteens programme, to ban fried food and soft drinks from all the schools, including the private ones”.

The delegation participated in two field trips near Brasília. In Formosa, in Goiás state, the visited a rural school, where they were greeted with a map of Africa drawn on the floor by the students. Following this visit, they went to a city school, to understand how the education system works in Brazil and to witness the distribution of school feeding to the students.

“I would like to say that our delegation does represents not only the countries present here. It represents the African Union. The entire Africa. We hope to be up to everything that we are going to see. We hope that the tree that was planted here can also be planted in Africa, said Dr. Ikounga at the school.

On the following day, the delegation went to a land reform settlement called Contagem, where they visited the rural property of Antonio and Maria das Dores Silva. The couple lives in the settlement for 16 years and they raise pigs and chicken and grow cassava, fruits and vegetables, besides producing honey. Part of their production is bought by the school feeding programme.

“Here we live in better conditions than in the city. I am a mother, a housewife, but I am also starting a bakery shop close to here”, Maria das Dores told. She is the president of the women association of the Contagem settlement. Thanks to the efforts of the association, the community managed to get a bus to make sure that youths and adults can attend classes.

“We already knew that the Brazilian women are famous for their beauty, but today we saw that besides being beautiful they are also hard workers. We are very impressed by their engagement and their capacity to act to change their lives and their communities”, said the head of the delegation, Dr. Ikounga.

Closing session

Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union, at the closing ceremony

Photo: WFP/Isadora Ferreira


“School feeding is a social project that goes beyond education. What we saw here will help us establish similar initiatives in our countries and in the continental level. All of this happens through the support of the Centre of Excellence, which engaged us in the school feeding discussions”, said the minister of Education of Niger, Ms. Ali Mariama Elhadji Ibrahim.

Thomas Yanga, director of the WFP office for Africa, said that this visit to Brazil is just the beginning of a great change that has to be put in place in the entire African continent. “Our countries can more! Through the knowledge we already have and the knowledge that we can still acquire, we can feed our children”.

Alhaji Limuna Mohammed-Muniru, northern regional minister of Agriculture of Ghana, said that this trip to Brazil was an eye-opener. “We already witnessed the multiple benefits of school feeding in Ghana. We hope to achieve good results in one specific area, but once we start to implement a school feeding programme we realize that we are solving many problems at once”.

The minister of Agriculture of Zimbabwe, Joseph Mtekwese Made, emphasized the gratitude of the whole group for the opportunity of coming to Brazil and learning about the Brazilian experiences. “We felt home and we were able to express our concerns”.

The chief of the delegation. Dr. Ikounga, thanked all participants of the mission, especially the ministers that attended the study visit. “We know how difficult it is to be absent of you miniter’s functions during an entire week”. He informed that the African Union, in partnership with the WFP Centre of Excellence and other WFP offices working in Africa, will conduct a study about the pertinence and the impact of school feeding all over Africa, to provide inputs for a continental initiative in school feeding.

The objective is to provide technical assistance for the African Union to take ownership of the issue and to adopt a continental initiative on school feeding

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger launched its 2014 Annual Report. The document highlights the Centre’s achievements and the challenges ahead. 

Since its creation three years ago, the Centre is involved in assisting more than 70 developing countries and 34 of which joined study visits to Brazil. Here they learned more about the Brazilian renowned experience in school feeding and in fighting hunger.

The numbers are impressive and they are already being translated in cases of success, like the support given by the Centre to Bangladesh and The Gambia. The government of Bangladesh has launched a restructuring plan of their national school feeding programme to follow Brazil’s strategy and expand the supply of hot meals instead of cookies in the schools; and The Gambia government draw a National School Feeding Action Plan after visiting Brazil with an ambitious objective: to move from a model supported by donors to a government-owned model, by 2020.

“In addition to the technical assistance to build governments’ capacity, the Centre of Excellence against Hunger also made efforts in the dissemination of ideas, concepts and best practices for overcoming hunger. For the second time, the Centre co-organized the Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF), a key platform for the mobilization of people, institutions and governments involved in promoting school feeding as an essential strategy to achieve the Zero Hunger Challenge”, highlighted the Centre of Excellence Director, Daniel Balaban, in the report’s presentation letter.

More than 250 people from 46 countries gathered in South Africa to discuss the role of nutrition as a key component of sustainable and effective school feeding programmes, linked to programmes aimed at strengthening local agriculture.

According to Balaban, the year of 2015 will be crucial to the definition of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “We believe that the partnership and the cooperation among countries will be central to the debate and will be fundamental for the achievement of these goals, as well as the Zero Hunger Challenge. The Centre of Excellence against Hunger is prepared to fulfil its role to support the countries that are committed to changing their destiny towards economic and social development”, he declared.

Download the full report here:

In French

In Portuguese

In English

Since its creation three years ago, the Centre is assisting more than 70 developing countries committed to finding their own solutions to hunger and poverty, through south-south cooperation and capacity building.

A river called Atlantic. This is how Alberto da Costa e Silva, one of the greatest Brazilian experts in Africa, describes the historical relation between Brazil and the African continent. Narrowed by centuries of exchanges and migration these strong links drove a group of school cooks and teachers from São Paulo to Senegal, this week.

Between 8 and 12 of June, two teachers and two school cooks from the Municipal Education Network visited Dakar, capital of Senegal. They joined a technical mission from the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger.

The trip was part of an award granted for the first place in the Education beyond the Plate Award, organized by São Paulo Municipality in partnership with the Centre of Excellence to stimulate the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the schools, prizing the cooks and teachers responsible by the meals.

Based on these success stories, the proposal of the trip was to promote the exchange of experiences between Brazil and Africa. During the travel, teachers and cooks had the opportunity to present the school feeding programme implemented in the city of São Paulo to ministers of Education from 17 African countries – gathered in Senegal for a regional meeting about school feeding promoted by WFP.

Study visit to rural area

But what is it that children eat in the schools of Senegal? What type of food is prepared? How the communities organized themselves for that? What are the main challenges? What is similar and what is different from what happens in Brazil?

To answer questions like these the São Paulo teachers and cooks crossed the Atlantic and visited Africa for the first time.

Brazilian cooks and teachers meet Senegalese students and school staff at Oudiour Primary Public School

Photo: WFP/Mariana Rocha


“We are having a unique opportunity to inspire African countries to develop their own public policies to fight food insecurity”, said Erika Fisher, director of the School Feeding Department in the Municipality of São Paulo, that accompanied the trip.

Besides Erika, the group was composed by the teacher Sonia Maria Maruso Ribeiro, the cook Maria Aparecida Gomes Martins, teacher Dirce Zilles G. Borges dos Santos, the pedagogic coordinator Vivian Brandão Polli and the cook Claudia de Jesus Silva.

Tuesday, the 9th, they visited Oudiour Primary Public School, supported by WFP via a Cash&Voucher programme. The school is located 160 km from Dakar, in Gossas department, in the region of Fatick.

The school, that dates from 1962 and it is one of the oldest in Senegal, has 184 students registered in five different grades.

There, school feeding means active participation from the children’s mothers (called in French “les femmes mammans”). They work in shifts to prepare the two daily meals: snack and lunch.

The visit allowed a rich exchange of experiences between São Paulo’s and Oudiour’s teachers and cooks. The Brazilian group was warmly welcomed in the school and joined a snack time –when a traditional mix of corn and peanut was served.

The Senegalese community was very interested in exchanging ideas with the Brazilians teachers because the school receives mostly donors’ visits. The São Paulo cooks were able to put themselves in the Senegalese cooks’ shoes and even exchanged some recipes.

“The visit to the school was historical! We could learn a lot about the local reality, besides providing a testimonial about the relevance of our programme and to show how it can inspire colleagues from other countries to look for new horizons”, said Erika.

Later, the group met the school board and the parents committee that is very involved in the school’s activities.

It was in this same school in Oudiour that WFP launched in 30 April a new project, "School Canteen via Cash Vouchers", which is spreading to 260 schools and six new regions across the country.

Instead of traditional food distribution, WFP supplies school canteens with cash vouchers so that they can purchase local food themselves, boosting the local economy and stimulating family farming.

Exchange of experiences

Back to Dakar, in the next day, the group did a presentation about their work in São Paulo to the participants of the regional workshop on school feeding, organized by the WFP Regional Bureau in Dakar and the WFP Centre of Excellence.

The group presented a brief history of the school feeding evolution in São Paulo, highlighting that they also once received support from WFP and that progress took decades to be built. 

The cooks shared some challenges they face in the promotion of healthy meals in the schools and told the story of the creation of one school garden that was possible because of the idea and determination of teacher Sonia.

Erika also gave details about the Brazilian school feeding programme. The cooks explained to the audiences how the meals are prepared in the Brazilian schools and presented their winning projects in the Education beyond the Plate Award.

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From 8 to 12 June, two teachers and two school cooks from the São Paulo municipal public education network visited Dakar, capital of Senegal. They joined a technical mission of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger to exchange school feeding experiences with representatives of 23 African countries.

Dakar, in Senegal, hosted a Regional Workshop on School Feeding, from 8 to 12 June. Held by the WFP Regional Bureau Dakar and the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, the event had the goal of accelerating the transition to nationally owned school feeding programmes in the West and Central African regions.

On Monday and Tuesday, the event included only WFP staff members. Participants discussed two new WFP policies, the school feeding policy and the south-south cooperation policy. They had the opportunity to learn about the international and regional contexts and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the many stakeholders involved in south-south cooperation and school feeding initiatives. They also debated the mechanisms available to coordinate the WFP’s and its partners’ efforts in order to develop innovative approaches for both themes.

After this first moment of discussions, the event was open to other audiences, to include representatives of 23 countries, as well as the 31 WFP staff members. On Wednesday, representatives of the participating governments joined the WFP focal points to exchange best practices and innovations of their school feeding programmes. It was an opportunity for the governments to work together with WFP representatives in designing the pathway to transition to sustainable country-owned school feeding programmes.

The debates aimed at strengthening the capacities of the different governments of the region to develop, improve and sustain nationally owned school feeding programmes, in a context of new perspectives and emerging challenges for the post-2015 agenda. Most of the participating countries already adopted ambitious school feeding policies, and their challenge now is to implement it.

Alexandrina Vera Cruz, coordinator of the National School Feeding and Health Programme of Sao Tome and Principe, explained how the support Brazil is providing for her country is helping them move from a WFP-supported programme to a country-owned programme. “We were a baby that grew up in a sustainable crib”, she said.

The importance of south-south cooperation

Many of the participating countries highlighted the visit to Brazil, supported by WFP Country Offices and Regional Offices and by the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, as a new boost to their ongoing efforts to develop innovative and sustainable school feeding programmes. They also emphasised the importance of strategic vision and planning in the search for resources to fund school feeding, the role of the legal framework in supporting the programmes, and how the multisectorial engagement of governments is crucial for the effectiveness of the policies.

The São Paulo delegation, composed by the winners of the Education beyond the Plate Award, presented the municipality’s school feeding programme to contribute to the discussions. They also presented the award, an initiative of the city hall, supported by the Centre of Excellence, to recognize the distinguished role of the school cooks in the promotion of healthy eating habits among school children.

On Thursday, the participants were divided into working groups to discuss the challenges for the transition to nationally owned programmes and their sustainability. From these discussions, the WFP Regional Bureau Dakar and the Centre of Excellence identified how they can support the governments to overcome these challenges.

The seminar was an opportunity to improve the quality of the technical support brought by the different WFP country offices, the Centre of Excellence against Hunger and the WFP Regional Bureau of Dakar, Johannesburg and Cairo to the governments. It was also an effort to promote south-south cooperation in the development of innovative and sustainable approaches for school feeding, by the establishment of the first francophone network of school feeding practitioners.

This Francophone School Feeding Network was launched on Friday, last day of the event, as a development of a meeting with West African countries held at the 2014 Global Child Nutrition forum, in Johannesburg last September. The meeting was an initiative of the minister of Education of Niger, and ministers from Benin, Senegal, Mali, Chad, Cape Verde, and Togo were in attendance. The Gambia and Côte D’Ivoire also sent representatives. The goal of this network is to expand the exchange of experiences about school feeding among francophone African countries.

Representatives of 23 countries  and 31 WFP staff members debate ways of accelerating the transition to nationally owned school feeding programmes in the West and Central African regions, during event organized by the Centre of Excellence and the WFP Regional Bureau Dakar.