The U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $248 million in 10 new school feeding projects expected to benefit more than a million children worldwide, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jewel Bronaugh announced today.
USDA’s 2021 commitment, through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, includes both direct financial support and the donation of U.S.-grown commodities to be used in school meals.
“Globally, school feeding is one of the most successful social protection measures, reducing food insecurity, improving nutrition for vulnerable children and their families, and offering a powerful incentive for families to send their children – especially girls – to school,” Bronaugh said.
Through the McGovern-Dole Program, FAS works with development organizations and governments in developing countries to reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education. By providing school meals, teacher training and related support, McGovern-Dole projects help boost school enrollment and academic performance, with a special focus on girls. In areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to close, project implementers have also pivoted to provide take-home rations for students and their families.
The 10 new projects USDA is funding in 2021 are in addition to 40 projects already underway in 30 countries. Some of this year’s funding will go towards local procurement of agricultural commodities to supplement donated U.S. commodities, helping increase dietary diversity and build connections between project schools and local farmers.
“The ultimate goal of the McGovern-Dole Program is to bring about sustainable, lasting change. We’re not just providing food, we’re also investing in education and working to ensure that the communities we serve will ultimately be able to continue school feeding and related activities on their own or with local support,” Bronaugh said.
Since the McGovern-Dole Program was established in 2002, it has benefitted more than 31 million children in 51 countries and utilized more than 1.3 million metric tons of donated U.S. commodities.
“USDA is proud to be the largest international school feeding donor via the McGovern-Dole Program. We’re also bringing that leadership and expertise to bear as part of the Global School Meals Coalition, which was launched at the United Nations Food Systems Summit last month,” Bronaugh said. “We look forward to working with other like-minded countries and international organizations through the coalition to make sure that all schoolchildren worldwide have access to nutritious school meals by 2030.”