Helpdesk Report: School feeding



Have school feeding programmes led to measurable gains in educational, health outcomes or economic outcomes? If so, under what circumstances and using what approaches?


This report identifies research on the outcomes of school feeding programmes which are mixed but largely positive. Some programme costs and design considerations are presented which provide lessons for sustainability and affordability. Some cost-benefit analyses are also included and trade-offs discussed.

Key points for consideration in programme design include:

  • Geographical targeting.
  • Biscuits are a significantly lower cost than in-school meals but have a more limited impact. Fortification of foods can be cost-effective.
  • Administrative costs of feeding programmes are high.
  • Cooking facility infrastructure, equipment, and hygiene have been an issue in a number of programmes.
  • Trained cooks can be lacking. Job creation can be an opportunity in this area if built in to the design.
  • Local procurement may be feasible. This should start in an area of surplus production and farmers will need support for effective market engagement. Efforts to coordinate different sectors is important.
  • There should be clear agreement from the outset on the duration of donor support and plans for future government funding.
  • Time and investment is required to build government capacity throughout to implement the programme.


Bolton, L. Helpdesk Report: School feeding. Health and Education Advice and Resource Team (HEART), Oxford, UK (2016) 37 pp.

Helpdesk Report: School feeding

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