Blogs

Each year we have a number of guest bloggers from around the world talking about different issues form their perspective.

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Posted on 10 March 2017

Mouhamed’s Story

By Norma Toussaint, Counterpart International

Read the story

Posted on 9 March 2017

Promoting Healthy Diets in School Meals Programmes through Food Systems and nutrition-sensitive agriculture

By the FAO nutrition team: Boitshepo Glyose, Andrea PoloGalante, Diana Carter, Ana Islas Ramos and Marie Caroline Dode.

In line with the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), the Zero Hunger Challenge and the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), FAO recognizes school children as a priority for nutrition interventions and acknowledged the school environment as an opportune platform for a nutrition sensitive approach.

School children need a healthy School Meals to develop and grow well

Many children enter school suffering from stunting, underweight and multiple micronutrient deficiencies, especially among low-income populations. However, in the recent past, a significant number is entering school overweight or obese. Therefore, providing nutritionally balanced school meals combined with nutrition education and health measures can improve nutritional outcomes, improve nutrition literacy and eventually enhance school performance. In the long run, this would improve employment prospects, income and promote better livelihoods in later life.

The impact of school meals on the nutrition of school-aged children is improved when these meals incorporate nutrition sensitive efforts such as diverse production and use of food based dietary guidelines to improve their quality and diversity. Naturally, this has to take into account regional, national and local contexts where the school meals programmes are implemented. The contribution of the school meals programmes to improve eating habits and consequently better nutrition can be enhanced when it is associated with nutrition-sensitive elements such as the incorporation of high quality nutritious foods into the daily menus, and linking school meals with food and nutrition education.

FAO’s role: What it means in practice

FAO supports national governments to design policies, programmes and projects on school food and nutrition with a comprehensive approach that places emphasis on a food systems approach with a nutrition lens.

To add nutrition sensitive lens into school meals FAO considers 3 key areas:

Creation of enabling environments: The multifaceted nature of the core components of School Food and Nutrition requires a policy and programme approach that is multisectoral and takes cognizance of the need to develop and adopt a conducive legal, regulatory and institutional enabling environment. Countries may for instance need to establish explicit policies that link school meals programmes to local and smallholder production and procurement, food and nutrition consumer education for healthier and more sustainable diets.

Promotion of better nutrition: school meals  linked with food and nutrition education encompass a set of rules, principles or recommendations, based on the latest nutrition science and evidence  and the context of each school system, on the nutritional quality and quantity, preparation, and safety of foods and drinks offered in schools. Food and nutrition education in the school setting aims to facilitate guidance and voluntary adoption of long-lasting, healthy food-related outlooks, practices and habits that promote better health, well-being and productivity.

Community Development: This entails building direct links between schools’ demand for safe, diverse and nutritious local products; and available supply from smallholder farmers at local or national levels to stimulate the local economy and foster community involvement and sustainable development. This link can therefore effectively augment the impact of regular school meals programmes with economic benefits for local communities particularly smallholder farmers and small scale enterprises managed by youth and women, while fostering effective and symbiotic public private partnerships.

Connecting nutrition-sensitive agriculture to school menus: Armenia experience

To promote a diversified food into schools menus, the Armenian government is highlighting the importance of connecting the agriculture sector to national school meals programme.

This national programme plays a vital safety net for vulnerable populations, which acts as an effective mechanism to reduce the pressure of families to resort to negative coping strategies, such as withdrawing children from school. Currently 81,500 children receive every day nutritious and healthy meals that are balanced in calories, vitamins, and minerals.

The cooperation with FAO also includes support to connect school meals programme, agriculture productivity, markets and local procurement. FAO has played an active role in supporting Armenia’s national development plans and emergency projects aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and improving the country’s food security over 20 years. It has provided technical assistance ranging from developments in the agriculture sector to fighting transboundary animal diseases, natural resources management, land administration and forestry and fisheries interventions. All these eventually contribute to the national school meals programmes.

Posted on 9 March 2017

A letter from America on ISMD
By Alistair McIntyre, Head of Catering Services at Scottish Borders Council. 

It seems very strange to be sending this from San Antonio in Texas about school meals but I have  just seen one breakfast service in Martin Elementary school in the Northern district that serves 30,000 breakfasts every day…..that’s the district, not the school! So, 355 pupils all eating a healthy breakfast of cereals, fruit and bread.

It took nearly 24 hours and three flights to get here but hopefully over the next few days I will learn a lot more about how America is tackling the obesity crisis in their schools.
The time I arrived at the school was 6:45 and it was dark and a little rainy! San Antonio is huge, no high rise apartments and a spread of over 40 miles! Speaking to my host he said it’s been a bad winter as two evenings have reached as low as 20 degrees! I did say he should try Glasgow in July if he thinks that’s bad!
The place was already teeming with youngsters, breakfast was at 7 and school started at 8.00 although some elementary schools start at 7.45. It’s all very strange to see it all happening so early but seeing it all running so smoothly, kids eating and staff from all over the school working in harmony….it worked!
They are starting their first holiday feeding next week during spring break to try and do as some of our authorities are and make sure these kids are looked after for a bit longer! Whatever we believe about the benefits of breakfast service in schools, this district swears by it that the pupils are more alert, attentive and ready than before this all started.
San Antonio is the 7th most populous city in the United States and has a very large Spanish speaking community and from what I have seen it really is quite diverse in its population. Everyone I met with, however, had one thing in common, they were passionate…….about feeding their pupils the best way they can……about their attitude and the schools admin staff (which included several vice principals and directors) were equally passionate about making the experience work for these young people.
Martin Elementary is a CEP (Community Eligible Provision) which means every child gets a free meal. Something very special happened as I was presented with two posters made by the children from  the head start group which are a group of disadvantaged youngsters (and young!) and one from pupils with learning difficulties and apparently this never happens! I was introduced to Northside Nick (the chimp) who makes guest appearances to encourage the pupils to eat their fruit and he was much more popular than me and I thought I was well received…..but Nick was something else!
Then I then went to Brennan High school for lunch and was given four entrees and a bunch of sides as they wanted me to try everything so I had pizza, BBQ beef sloppy joes, chicken pieces and chilli with nachos! Well I am in Texas so BBQ and chilli were local dishes but in all honesty all were delicious. They do not have salt in any schools and all of their bread products are made with wholemeal flour, even the tortillas.
Brennan has 3,000 pupils, two sittings, six service lines and was another super school! Was it what I was expecting?……..no…….can I understand why there are so many obesity issues in the states?….no, not if this is a typical example. The philosophy of my host and his team is the same as I have said many times, that if a child is eating with them it’s better for them than down the high street and yes …..they have the same open door policy as us.
What I witnessed were great staff doing a great job providing great food and driven by a desire to keep improving…….a bit like being at home in more ways than one!….just warmer and with more BBQ.

Posted on 9 March 2017

Celebrating International School Meals Day 2017

By Linda Cregan, CEO at the Children’s Food Trust

Click here to read the blog

Posted on 8 March 2017

Celebrating International School Meals Day 2017

By Dr. Yibo Wood, Global Nutrition Coordinator, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA

Click here to read the blog

Posted on 8 March 2017

Food for Life Scotland: Making good food the easy choice

What’s your strongest food memory?

For some, it might be a fond recollection of cooking with a close family relative; enjoying the taste, smell and texture of home-made food made with loved ones. For others, it might be a trip to a restaurant, or a picnic on the beach. Maybe your favourite food memory is a celebration; a wedding, or a get-together with family and friends. Whatever the memory, the chances are that your recollections include at least one of the following:  tasty food, good company, and pleasant surroundings.

But not all food memories are positive. For many, the strongest food memory isn’t a good one. Soggy, tasteless food. A noisy, dirty, cramped dining space. Feeling rushed, and gulping down your dinner to meet a deadline. Being forced to stay at the table until you’d finished everything on your plate. Indifferent service from waiting staff. No time to chat with and enjoy the company of those around you.

Whatever your food memory, the chances are that it’s made a lasting impression on the way you view certain foods, and it may still influence your food choices and food habits. And chances are, your strongest food memory is from your childhood.

At Food for Life Scotland, we work to make good food the easy choice for everyone. We want every Scot, young and old, to be able to access and enjoy good food, and create their own good food memories. We want good food – food that’s good for health, the economy, and the environment – to be part of the conversation and a way of life in schools, workplaces, shops, restaurants, care homes; everywhere that people live their daily lives. And for Scottish children and young people, the school meal is an ideal place to start.

Good food has the power to bring everyone in the school environment together; sharing and learning with and from one another. Exploring the provenance of the good food on the plate in front of you provides an ideal platform for exploring local and global heritage and identities; forging lasting connections with people from around the corner and across the globe.

Good food holds the key to healthier people, a thriving economy, and a greener environment. Will you join us on a good food journey?

Find out more about Food for Life Scotland at https://www.soilassociation.org/our-work-in-scotland/

Posted on 7 March 2017

School Meals: A Critical Strategy Across the Globe

By Rebecca Middleton, Executive Director, Alliance to End Hunger

Hunger can deeply impact individuals, families, and communities.  This is true across the globe, from Mogadishu to right here in Washington, D.C.  While the root causes and true depth of hunger may differ widely from place to place, food insecurity prevents societies everywhere from reaching their full potential.  There are, however, a number of proven strategies that can drive progress towards food security and wider societal benefits.  Many of these strategies succeed at tackling food security issues starting early in life—with our kids.  At the Alliance to End Hunger, we constantly hear about responses to hunger in the United States and around the world, and one strategy we hear over and over again is the momentous impact school meals can play.

Many of us are intimately familiar with school meals programs in the United States.  The federal government supports school feeding across the country—providing lunch, and increasingly breakfast—to many of our more vulnerable kids.  We know the vital importance of these meals.  Kids who are not eating enough nutritious food have trouble concentrating in class and are more prone to sickness, which leads to absenteeism.  In extreme cases, this lack of nutrition may even interrupt a child’s brain development ultimately leading to suffering classroom performance, poor grades and an exacerbated cycle of intergenerational poverty.  There are many organizations, such as Alliance members No Kid Hungry and Feeding America, that recognize the importance of strong, consistent nutrition for children and work closely with USDA and others to support meals for kids outside of school.  This work includes promoting summer meal sites and backpack programs as well as strong policy advocacy.

The simple act of feeding children at school in lower income countries can have an even more pronounced impact.  In countries where families derive their livelihoods from farming, it can be hard to sacrifice the work a child can provide at a family’s homestead to send them to school.  But with the benefit of a meal at school, and one less meal an impoverished family needs to provide, a child can go to school and receive the education that will eventually pay off for his or her family, and community, as a whole.  Beyond improving education, school meals also help to improve gender equality by providing families incentive to send their sons and daughters to school.  These multiple benefits of school meals have been recognized by the U.S. government, leading to critical programs like the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.  The World Food Program is also highly invested in these effective programs.

Wherever you are in the world, the interconnectedness of food security and education is unavoidable.  And on this International School Meals Day, let’s highlight the importance of supporting programs that provide nutritious food to our children, while also encouraging learning.  School meals are an obvious investment in all of our futures.

Posted on 6 March 2017

McGovern-Dole School Gardens: Connecting Schoolchildren to Food, Culture, and Heritage

As part of its multi-intervention approach to sustainable school meals programming, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) through its flagship McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) program provides support for the establishment of school gardens.

These McGovern-Dole supported school gardens address a variety of needs. The gardens serve as a nature-based classroom to teach hands-on nutrition education and learn about food production. School gardens also complement the school meals prepared from USDA-donated commodities with local, healthy, and seasonal vegetables and fruit. When eating the fresh produce from school gardens, schoolchildren receive not only a nutritionally diverse diet, but also food they can take pride in knowing they helped grow.

In Nepal, the McGovern-Dole program implemented by the World Food Program (WFP) supports a Cooperative which is responsible for the management of school gardens.  These school gardens produce fruit and vegetables to supplement school meals of students. Along with nutrition awareness activities, the school gardens are used as an educational tool for children, parents, and teachers to learn about the importance of nutrition. Kamala Lamichane, a member of the Cooperative, currently oversees the garden in Shree Helambu Basic School. Kamala says, “We are growing spinach, carrot, cucumber, beans, squash and many other vegetables in the garden. This way we can cook healthy and nutritious food for the children.” The Cooperative has established school gardens in nine schools across the Mahankal Village Development Committee in Kathmandu.

Photo Credit: Cooks from Shree Helambu Basic School planting vegetables in the school kitchen garden.

Meet Inu Keabudsham, he lives in the remote village of Phavy in Northern Laos. Inu is ten years old and as the only child in his family, is responsibile to take care of the housework, while his parents work in the fields. Inu is no ordinary child. He is the head boy of his class and plans to go to university and become a policeman one day. He proudly wears the key to the school kitchen and the storeroom.  He is responsible for taking care of storekeeping duties and keeps the watering pots for the McGovern-Dole supported school garden.

Because of the McGovern-Dole program, Inu receives nutritious meals at school, concentrates better and learns to grow vegetables. He has also helped his parets to set up their own private garden to grow more diverse food. USDA support allows Inu and the other school children in 1,446 schools across the country to receive nutritious food and gain skills for the future.

In Rwanda, schoolchildren supported by the McGovern-Dole program which is implemented by WFP in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), learn proper weeding techniques and other agricultural application for growing maize. The harvested maize is used to supplement USDA-donated commodities.

Photo Credit: WFP/Rein Skullerud Nalae district, Luang Namtha province

In Guatemala, the McGovern Dole program implemented by the Catholic Relief Services, teach schoolchildren school gardening. They plant crops in raised beds designed in creative shapes including numbers and letters.  Teachers link this to the school’s curriculum for lessons in science, math, and reading, making classes more interactive and meaningful. Students practice adding and subtracting using the shapes and numbers of the beds and plants. They also identify crops by name in both Spanish and K’iche’.  This McGovern-Dole project prioritizes native plants that have traditionally been important in the Mayan culture. Students learn the uses and properties of the crops they harvest including how to add different plants to their daily diets and how to use them for medicinal purposes. To date, the project has established 20 school gardens and has included native plants such as apazote and hierbamora.

In Senegal, the McGovern-Dole program implemented by Counterpart International worked with local communities to establish 20 community farms in areas near the Senegal River where water is easily accessible. The head teachers from the local schools have given overwhelmingly positive feedback on how these new farms have helped to transform their communities. The produce from the farms is used in the school meals program, a method proven to increase school attendance and nutrition rates within these communities. Excess food is sold for cash, both to be reinvested in the management and maintenance of the school canteens, and to support the purchase of protein and other types of food unavailable within the community. To complement the USDA-donated commodities of rice, peas, cornmeal, lentil and vegetable oil, the community produces rice and maize during the rainy season (July through October), and they produce cabbage, tomatoes, onions, pepper and okra, during the dry season (November through June). This allows for a diversification of the school lunch menu. Mrs. Ly Dethie Fall, President of the School Management of the UGB Preschool in Saint Louis, lauded the benefit of the gardens. “The production of onions and tomatoes allows us to prepare nutritious and tasty meals for children. In addition, we plan to sell the surplus that will be reinvested to the benefit of the canteen.”

Photo Credit: Counterpart International

As a result of the community farming efforts, a total of 7.874 tons of rice, cowpeas, sorghum and millet were harvested for the school granaries in 81 communities. According to Desire Yameogo, Counterpart International’s Country Director, “The community understands the philosophy of the school granary. There have been so many stories of success. In Gadaty, for instance, the community was suffering from severe food insecurity, but thanks to this program they have been able to provide two sheep and three goats which were sold to supply the school granary.”

 

 

 

Posted on 6 March 2017

The Best Food in Town?

By Alistair McIntyre, Head of Catering Services at Scottish Borders Council.

When I was a young (and not so young) boy I loved school dinners…but I can understand why some of my friends didn’t! The mashed potatoes were texturally challenging and often greyer than a rainy Aberdeen afternoon! The beef required some amount of chewing to get it to the stage of being able to swallow it and the pink custard defied logic!

But despite these culinary failings the majority of kids in both my primary and secondary schools still ate it, and paid for it! But that was then.

Why nowadays when every P1-3 in Scotland can get a lovely, balanced school meal for FREE are we not achieving a 100% take up?

I can say that the food is excellent; the mashed potatoes may not be as much fun or multi-coloured, but they are smooth and delicious. The beef is generally Scotch and tender and thank goodness that we have eradicated pink custard in favour of fruit pots and delicious home baking! Yes, home baking, which is a perfect accompaniment to a well-balanced meal.

As I have travelled around Scotland visiting different areas I am amazed at how far have we come with flavour profiles and textures and variety and a plethora of different ethnic foods available, not to mention gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, high protein, low fat, high carb, low carb and meat free options; we are now SO diverse we can cope with any requirements.

If there is a more heart-warming sight than seeing a youngster enjoying lovely food then it can only be them learning about the food they are eating.

Just lately I have been in Busby Primary where the young people learn about, cook and eat the food and then serve it as well, and in Melrose Primary where they have installed a prep kitchen in the school and are teaching the youngsters some cooking techniques.

I have seen these young people grow, dig and cook the veggies and try certain fruits that would have had my old school cook, or even my first cookery teacher, running a mile.

International School School Meals Day is a celebration of food, of the sheer enjoyment of it and, more importantly, how it fuels the body for learning, physical activity and good health.

In South Ayrshire there is a lot going on the day, including: French, Spanish and Italian menus – one school is doing a menu with a selection of dishes from eight different countries!  – and children are being encouraged to bring in family recipes, with one chosen to feature on the menu that day. On this really important day they are promoting UNCRC Article 24 “that every child has the right to good food and water” and Article 7 “that every child has the right to a name and nationality”.

In our high schools in the Borders on 9 March we will be celebrating very different countries and cultures from Ethiopia to South America to Asia and incorporating the staples that the young people in these countries will be having as their school meal.

One example is from Galashiels Academy where the Ethiopian menu for the day is: Key Wat – Spicy Beef Stew, Misir Wot – red Lentil and carrot one pot slow cooked Ethiopian Chicken and Lentil Stew and all served with home-made Injera bread to mop up the lovely flavours.

Is this type of activity unusual in Scottishs schools? Absolutely not.

My experiences of the types of food being served are changing almost daily to meet the young gourmets that we have coming through our schools, whether it’s food being made from scratch perhaps using the great ‘world’ products from Unilever or bought in from one of our superb suppliers such as Green Gourmet reacting to innovation and customer feedback.

We live in exciting and changing times with many opportunities to educate young palates and to make food fun and different, and show them that all over the world people are eating different types of foods for different reason, but that in all cases – Better Eating means Better Learning!

Get involved and if you want to learn more about changing your school meals or persuading your school cook to try something different, check out the school meals web site, www.scottishschoolmeals.co.uk or www.assistfm.com or the Unilever World Food Program through Jason.McKeon@unilever.com or contact Alistair at amcintyre@scotborders.gov.uk.

Posted on 3 March 2017

School food matters

By John Swinney, Deputy First Minister

Education is the defining mission of this Government. We want to ensure every child – no matter where they are from or how well off their family is – has the same opportunities and an equal chance to succeed and we are taking forward a range of actions to achieve this.

One important focus for us is school food: it matters, both in terms of what children eat and what they learn about.

As part of Curriculum for Excellence, children and young people are encouraged to acquire knowledge and skills to help them understand how food can affect everything around them. Teachers have access to resources aimed at supporting learning about Scotland’s food and drink through well planned interdisciplinary learning. This will prove particularly important in meeting this Government’s commitment to raising attainment for all and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

The Scottish Government has also invested heavily in school food over the past decade. Our strict regulations governing food and drink served in schools are among the most stringent in Europe. With almost 366,000 school meals served up in Scottish schools every day we must ensure nutritional standards are the best they can be. I also want children, especially primary pupils, to have as many of their ‘five a day’ as possible, and for food to be sourced as locally as possible.

Scotland has an outstanding natural larder and a rich culinary heritage, which is reflected more and more in the food and drink served in our schools.

And this is being celebrated this International School Meals Day which is focussing on ‘Food, Culture and Heritage’, reflecting 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

From fresh berries, oats and barley, to delicious meats and cheeses, and fish and shellfish from our pristine waters, some of the delicacies for which Scotland is internationally renowned can trace their history back to Neolithic times.  Scotland clearly has much to offer the world when it comes to food culture and heritage.

As we go forward with our plan of work for the coming year, we should remember the journey Scottish food and drink has taken. I hope you will share your food experiences as a child growing up in Scotland so we can tell the story of culinary change as we look ahead to 2018, and the Year of the Young People.

Since its inception, International School Meals Day has grown in in scale and success, last year involving schools in Brazil, India, Sweden, Pakistan, Italy, Czech Republic, Gambia, Lesotho, Malawi and – for the first time – Canada, and Namibia.

I look forward to following its success in 2017 at www.internationalschoolmealsday.com, @IntSchoolMeals and #ISMD2017.

Posted on 27 February 2017

Reflections on the value of schools meal programmes, and the Global Child Nutrition Forum

By Janey Thornton, PhD, GCNF Board Member – written on behalf of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF)

Over the last ten years, school meal programme advocates have increasingly raised the awareness of the importance and value of school meal programmes across the world. Advocates have come from accepting the fact that girls probably won’t even get to go to school and that students in school are likely not to get fed to now hearing a rallying cry to ensure that all kids have access to school, and that while in school all kids have access to a healthy meal. While we recognise that we’re at all spectrums of the goal, we are seeing an amazing increase in the attention being afforded to school meals in countries worldwide. We are no longer just seeing fortified biscuits in developing countries but now are beginning to see a greater abundance of nutritious, locally-grown foods being served in schools. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF), I have seen the impact of increased awareness of school meal program benefits around the world.

During the GCNF’s annual international Global Child Nutrition Forum, we always have one day devoted to school visits. That’s truly the highlight of the Forum for many of us. It’s empowering to sit and talk to students in their classrooms and in the areas where they eat. You can see the excitement in eyes and hear the pride and delight in their voices as they talk about school meals. We often have visited with parents who are doing the food preparation–sometimes in a school kitchen and sometimes outdoors over an open fire. These are often the same schools where parents, and sometimes even the students, have grown the foods being prepared. And their excitement and pride is contagious. We hear reported time and time again that school meals not only help students perform better in school, but actually more kids are able to attend school when meals are available.

We’re finding that more and more countries are not only recognising the importance of seeing that kids are fed at school but they’re also developing regional and national programs that will help in the funding of these programs. They truly understand that this financial commitment is not only an investment in the health and well-being of the children being fed, but is a true investment in their country for the many years to come.

International School Meals day is just one more avenue that helps students realise that the changes that are occurring are not just happening in their school or in their country but is a movement that is growing worldwide. These students will grow and development into our world of tomorrow recognising how much more we have in common with each other than we have differences. They will come to realise that the one catalyst that often draws us all together and has such an impact on global citizenship and the global economy is food!

Posted 22 February 2017

Food, glorious food: Better eating can create better learning says Lorna Aitken, sharing some thoughts from Scotland on how and why good food is important as we head towards the fifth International School Meals Day.

Lorna Aitken is the Food and Health Development Officer at Education Scotland

Click here to read the article (reproduced with kind permission from Children in Scotland).

Posted 13 February 2017

Safe Nutrition for Children in Peru

By Klaus Plenge, Key Account Director, Tetra Pak Peru.

Known as ‘Qali Warma’, the school feeding programme in Peru delivers milk and other nutritious products to millions of children aged three to five across eight regions in Peru, including coastal areas, mountainous regions and the capital city, Lima, home to more than 30% of the population. The programme also has a strong educational element, teaching children about the importance of healthy eating, the personal hygiene, recycling and protecting the environment. During 2017 we expect that more than 250 000 children will get milk in our packages.

We took the first step to get involved several years ago when starting to talk to the government about  the school feeding programme. Together with Tetra Laval Food for Development we could share our  expertise, examples, best practices and all the support that we can give to them in terms of school  feeding. The government was looking for an easier, safer solution. So, along with the World Food  Programme and Food for Development, we carried out an assessment and made recommendations. In  2015, the opportunity arose to start supplying enriched milk and milk with cereals beverages in Tetra  Brik® Aseptic packages with our customers. Subsequently, we continued working with food processors on formulation and packaging design and the new products were ready by March. Now around 25% of the products that are being distributed through the school feeding programme are ready-to-drink products and the other 75% requires further preparation.

We share our expertise and real success cases around the world, share how we help to integrate all the cycle, improve formulations, ensuring that each portion delivers maximum nutritional benefit. But perhaps the other most significant contribution is in helping to build bridges between the public and private sectors. In these kinds of programmes, it is important to work as a team with the food processors and invite them to participate and offer a very good product for the children. Another important support is our knowledge and expertise in recycling. It is also important to work with the schools and the operators of the programme to collect the packages and send them to the recycle industry and close the life cycle of the package.

We made a survey during the first months of the programme and the result was amazing; more than 80% of the children showed a positive acceptance of the product and the package. This is the reason why we have to continue on this way and continue working for the future of the country.

My focus is to continue working with all stakeholders – the government, local producers and Tetra Pak – to support the future of the programme. We have to continue to find different products, not necessary dairy products. Fruit juices, new flavours and ready to drink solutions will bring healthy nutrition to the children. The most important priority is, in alliance with the food processors, to make food safe and available, everywhere. Finally, as I mentioned before, it is also important to connect the recycle industry and work very hard with environmental protection.

There are so many rewarding aspects of my work… Seeing the children’s faces when they get their drinks, and knowing that they are getting safe nutrition. Knowing that their chances of having a healthy future is priceless. But I’m also really delighted that we are delivering the same products to the school feeding programme as we do to the commercial market: these children are getting the best. It’s something exciting and inspirational. I’d also like to think that we have helped to raise standards across the programme as a whole, and that we can continue to build a stronger supply chain here in Peru so that the benefits of the school feeding programme are felt as widely as possible.

Posted 6 February 2017

Celebrate 2017 International School Meals Day

By Dr. Janey Thornton, former Deputy Under-Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, USDA.

As I think back over my years serving as Deputy Under-Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture, some of my fondest memories center on International School Meals Day. I was so excited as I sat in a classroom in Montgomery County, Maryland back in 2013 waiting for that first international Skype experience. While I was excited, the students could hardly sit still in their seats.

As the Skype progressed, I was reminded once again of how much more we have in common than we have that’s different. These young students talked together for over an hour, sharing customs and talking about the different interest and hobbies they had—much connected to foods. They also discussed the importance of healthy eating habits and the impact that these habits have on their success in school. They talked about school meals and family meals, they talked about snacks, they talked about unusual foods they liked and identified foods they’d never tasted before as they talked about foods that were unique to their countries.

I could tell the classroom teachers had worked with the students to be prepared for the discussions. They had studied the countries of their counterparts. They had tied their Skype experience to math, history, science and geography.  I noticed the excitement of the teachers and was pleased, when at the end of the Skype session, they were discussing future communication and connections between the classrooms. I could tell both teachers and students had benefitted from the session and as the kids were discussing future plans, it was obvious they were also growing as global citizens. This country across the ocean was no longer just a spot on a map but now, to those kids, was a real place with which they could truly identify. They realized that they had so much more in common than they’d at first suspected.

While I wasn’t in that classroom for future Skype sessions, I learned that the kids enjoyed several more connections and that the teachers felt they’d benefitted as much as the children.  I’m hopeful that teachers, students and advocates will share information about ISMD and the benefits that are seen and felt in every participating classroom.

As we move forward as a world, these connections have the potential to not only have a huge impact on the health and well-being of our children today, but can also have an impact on them as our leaders of the world tomorrow. These leaders will be able to see people across the world in a different way. Not just as people but as former Skype-mates and friends; recognising the many characteristics that make us one rather than the few characteristics that might be seen as making us different.

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