Children's nutrition

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Children's nutrition

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The global food crisis that began in 2022 is leaving record numbers of children around the world hungry and malnourished.

Childhood malnutrition was on the rise even before the global pandemic shuttered schools, disrupted school feeding programs, and cut off many sources of family income, driving millions of people around the world further into poverty and hunger.

The World Food Programme estimates that more than 345 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity in 2023 – a staggering rise of 200 million people compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The short-term consequences of severe malnutrition on children are catastrophic. Chronic or long-term food insecurity also has devastating effects, including stunting, vulnerability to disease, and long-term physical, social and cognitive deficits.

Good nutrition is the building block of a healthy childhood and a determinant of the kind of future a child will live. We must redouble our efforts to meet the immediate need for children to have enough healthy food to eat every day and longer-term, sustainable food security for families in the world’s poorest communities.

To alleviate the devastating effects of hunger on children,
in 2023 you helped:

deliver 3,858,361 meals to 19,625 children in schools

train 6,732 people on nutrition, food use, or cooking

train 5,802 people on agriculture / horticultre to grow more food

support 1,225 school, home and community gardens

1,653 parents/caregivers earn an income and help 8,159 gain access to credit and boost their savings

Conflict, economic shocks, climate extremes and soaring fertilizer prices are combining to create a food crisis of unprecedented proportions. As many as 828 million people are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. We have a choice: act now to save lives and invest in solutions that secure food security, stability and peace for all, or see people around the world facing rising hunger.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, 2023

The Challenges

RISING CHILD MALNUTRITION

Rising food and transportation prices, compounded by global conflict and climate change, are driving more people into poverty and causing a global food crisis. Smallholder farmers are the world’s poorest people and they and their children bear the brunt of hunger and malnutrition.

EDUCATION INEQUALITIES

In many communities, girls’ education isn’t valued, poverty prevents children from attending school, and there has been a high post-pandemic permanent drop-out rate. Children and youth at greatest risk of hunger may be least likely to be in school where meals are available.

LACK OF DIETARY DIVERSITY
& NUTRITION KNOWLEDGE

Poverty, geography, and cultural factors may limit the amount of food available and the quality and nutritional value of food needed to prevent malnutrition. Many parents lack the knowledge, skills or capacity to feed children an adequate, nutritionally-sound diet that meets children’s development milestones.

WORSENING CLIMATE IMPACTS

The climate crisis disproportionately impacts women and children – they pay the price in the lack of food available today, lack of income to buy food directly or to invest in climate-resilient inputs to improve agricultural productivity, and the burden of greater labour to secure food, water and income during emergencies caused by a changing climate.

Current Initiatives

SCHOOL FOOD PROGRAMS

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School food programs are one of the most effective ways to help improve children’s nutrition, reduce childhood hunger, and improve longer-term health and learning outcomes. You can help improve children’s nutrition by supporting:
  • Universal, sustainable, comprehensive and culturally-appropriate school food programs
  • Nutrition education in schools and communities – teaching parents and students about healthy eating and food preparation
  • School gardens – children learn where food comes from, participate in growing it, have greater access to fruits and vegetables in their daily school meals

GOOD LIVELIHOODS FOR WOMEN

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When women earn more money, they spend it to feed, clothe, and educate their children. You can help by supporting initiatives that:
  • Encourage women to join credit and savings co-ops, income-generating groups, farm-based organizations
  • Offer women skills-building to set up and maintain their own businesses to raise household income
  • Target women’s involvement in climate-adaptive agricultural training and practice to increase the amount of food available to consume and to sell

NUTRITION EDUCATION FOR PARENTS/CAREGIVERS & STUDENTS

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Nutrition education helps teach parents to grow, prepare and feed children a healthy diet that helps meet their children’s nutritional needs and development milestones. Linked to school food programs and school gardens, nutrition classes teach students where food comes from, how to practice healthy eating behaviours, and engages them in food growing and preparation offering them skills that will last a lifetime.

CHILDREN'S EDUCATION

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Education creates a level playing field for all students to grow up healthy. Girls’ education, which is often undervalued, is critical to support girls’ and women’s rights and reduce harmful traditional practices such as early marriage. Education directly translates to health and well-being for children, both in the immediate term by keeping children safe, nourished and actively learning; and in the longer-term, by breaking the cycle of poverty and improving children’s prospects for a healthy, productive life.

Learn more

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Canada: Stories of Impact

Learn more about the exciting initiatives that Indigenous communities in Canada are making happen!
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There's no such thing as a free lunch...
but there should be.

Canada is the only nation in the G7 and one of the only OECD nations without a nationally-funded school food program.
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Partner with us

Join a growing community committed to making long-term change
Members of the leadership
giving circle

Results & Impact

We are achieving together
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School Food


3,858,361
meals and snacks provided to 19,625 children through schools, daycares and after-school centres
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Food Production


3,014
people received agricultural inputs (seeds, tools, plants, etc.)
5,802
people trained on climate-smart agriculture / horticulture
6,732
people trained on nutrition, food use, or cooking
1,225
gardens supported
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Income & Livelihoods


8,159
members of 633 credit / savings groups (73% women)
1,502
business ventures are benefitting 1,653 people 80% women
2,084
people received business skills training (86% women)
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Children's Education


41,241
students supported in 92 ECCE centres & primary schools
2,549
parents/caregivers & teachers trained
9,629
students participated in school clubs

Hearing from children & parents

About how food-focused programs have made a difference
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I no longer sleep in class compared to when I used to doze due to hunger before joining the school feeding program. After having a meal, I am able to understand the lessons that are going on, especially in the afternoon.
GLORIA, UGANDA
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In order for your body to feel right and your brain to be healthy, you need to fuel it with healthy food to learn.
GRAYCE, NATOAGENEG (EEL GROUND FIRST NATION)
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My kids used to hate vegetables but now they eat them all. The whole family is more active and we have complete nutrition.
SOPHIA, BOLIVIA
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One of the key learnings for me was learning how long to cook food under heat in order to keep nutrition in the meal. Another interesting aspect is that it has helped reduce illness in my family. The children do not get sick as much as before … and I am so happy!
SIKEINA, GHANA
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    Where your support is needed

    To make more food available to more people

    133 high-need communities in 5 countries

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    The Future

    JOIN US TO HELP CREATE A FOOD-SECURE FUTURE FOR CHILDREN & FAMILIES AROUND THE WORLD

    Nutritious Meals for Children

    Children will receive healthy, nutritious meals through school food programs enabling them to attend and learn effectively in school.

    Nutrition Education

    Children, parents, teachers and Elders are collaborating to learn culturally appropriate, healthy food & nutrition behaviours that support physical, social, and emotional development.

    Sustainable
    Agricultural
    Livelihoods

    Smallholder farmers have access to climate-resilient Inputs and agronomic training, markets and value-addition to produce more food and earn more profit, helping them achieve a sustainable, food secure future for their families.

    Climate Change Resilience

    Communities will be better able to withstand the negative effects of climate change on their food security and mitigate the disproportional impact it has on women and children.

    Local Food Systems

    Families have access to affordable, healthy food through agricultural and horticultural activities, gardens, food centres, and agri-business initiatives.

    Reduced Poverty

    Children and families will benefit from reduced poverty, more food security, and increased income.

    Get in touch

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    Thank you for sharing our commitment to help children thrive!

    For more information, please reach out to Fawad Iqbal at [email protected]
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    Thank you for sharing our commitment to help children thrive!

    For more information, please reach out to Fawad Iqbal at [email protected]