The evidence concerning the impact of school feeding programmes on education is mixed. This paper, School feeding programmes, education and food security in rural Malawi, investigates one of the potential reasons behind this disagreement. The paper argues that the prevailing food security situation at the time and place of the programme's evaluation plays a major role. It estimates the impact of school feeding on the extensive and intensive margins of education, i.e., the percentage of children of primary school age who are in school and the percentage of primary school enrollees who have not dropped out.
The research concluded that school feeding programmes bear an impact on education and rely on the prevailing local food security situation. As long as there is a food constraint to relax and an educational gap to fill, school feeding improves educational outcomes. However, school feeding appears to be more effective in attracting children into school for the first time than in keeping them in school. This points to the fact that school feeding is more akin to safety net programmes than to educational interventions. Therefore, to improve educational outcomes, school feeding must be complemented by other programmes.
Read the full research paper at https://repository.graduateinstitute.ch/record/298512?ln=en
Banner image source: In the school kitchen, Christopher and other volunteer parents helping each other serve meals. (Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji) https://insight.wfp.org/behind-the-scenes-of-school-feeding-2be4813af835