Ending child hunger and malnutrition is a moral imperative and a necessity to achieve shared prosperity and stability for all nations. Forty-one percent of children under the age of 15 (605 million people) worldwide are at risk of hunger. The effect of moderate to severe food insecurity can cause debilitating or sometimes irreversible damage to the child’s physical and cognitive development. It not only threatens a child’s future but also harms families, communities, and nations. The World Bank estimates the economic costs of undernutrition, in terms of lost national productivity and economic growth, range between 2 and 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average.
The GFN Child Hunger Program Survey
To this end, The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) surveyed food banks and national networks in 30 countries from September to December 2019 on child hunger programs. This survey, the first of its kind, shines a light on the feeding programs for children that exist among food banks in the GFN network.
As part of their regular activities, the food banks that responded to the survey served an estimated 3.49 million school-age children (3 to 18 years old) in 2019. In addition, of the 80 survey respondents, 41 food banks in 18 countries report implementing targeted programs for school-age children in 2019, with food banks in seven more countries planning to implement a feeding program for school-age children in 2020. However, it is yet to be determined how the effects of COVID-19 will impact programmatic decisions.
Targeted approaches to the food security needs of mothers and children can profoundly impact society—breaking the cycle of poverty, building human capital, and driving economic development for generations to come.
Call to action
Strengthen government social support systems through school meals
The public and private sectors should make critical investments in school-based feeding programs as a means of promoting a society’s educational, employment, and economic success. Many models for successful school-based programs exist and, when scaled, the potential to quickly and efficiently reach vulnerable children is huge.
This report is made possible in part by the generous support from the following: