WFP – Stéphanie Savariaud: Celebrating Success of School Meal Programmes!


World Food Program is Working! 

… let’s Celebrate steps to Success…


Nyipher used to struggle in school. She had trouble paying attention and she’d fall asleep in class. A 14-year-old girl growing up in the slums of Nairobi, her problem wasn’t laziness—it was hunger. Then her school started serving meals at lunch and things began to change.



Nypher eats her midday meal in her classroom at the “New Adventure” School in the Kibera slums of Nairobi. Copyright:WFP/Rose Ogola


Now, she’s thinking about college and beyond.




NAIROBI—Nyipher remembers having to fight to keep her eyes open in school. Even when she could stay awake, she says it was a daily struggle to keep her mind on the lesson and off her empty stomach. It was a battle she seemed destined to lose. By the age of ten, Nyipher had fallen to the bottom of her class and showed little hope of catching up.

“I was so hungry I could hardly even think,” she said. “At the time I was only eating one meal a day, in the evenings. But by morning, I was hungry again with nothing to tide me over until supper, but a cup of tea. Then they started serving lunch at school and suddenly, things changed.”

Nyipher’s grades shot up overnight. Today, she’s 14 years old and competing for the top spot in her school with two other students. College is around the bend and Nyipher says she wants to study law and become a judge. “I want to bring justice to poor people and show that if you’re sure of yourself, then you can do anything.”


Slum life

Nyipher lives in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa where most people live on less than US $1.00 per day. Like most of her neighbours, she has no electricity and no running water.

“When I come home from school, the first thing I have to do is fetch clean water so we can do the laundry and wash dishes,” she says. Household chores take up most of her time and whatever time is left, she uses to study.

Nyipher is not an isolated case. Kenya hosts one of WFP’s longest running school feeding programmes, reaching over 675,000 children around the country. 83,000 of them live in Nairobi, where more than 90 schools across the city serve meals provided by WFP.


Food in schools

Studies in Kenya have shown that providing food to children in school can boost enrolment rates by as much as 28 per cent. They were also found to keep kids coming back, particularly in the case of girls, whose attendance rates rose by 10 per cent when fed at school.

Teachers at the “New Adventure” school where Nyipher studies confirm that since the programme began four years ago, the student body has grown from 142 to nearly 200, and that their grades have risen across the board.

In countries where school attendance is low, the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day boosts enrolment and promotes regular attendance. Parents are motivated to send their children to school instead of keeping them at home to work or care for siblings.

In the poorest parts of the world, a school meal programme can double primary school enrolment in one year. Among the key beneficiaries are girls, who otherwise may never be given the opportunity to learn.


Health interventions

WFP’s school meal programmes work towards achieving several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The programmes directly address the goals of reducing hunger by half, achieving universal primary education and of achieving gender parity in education — all by 2015.

School meals contribute over the long term to combating poverty but it also helps to reduce disease. It provides a platform for directly addressing child health and nutrition, for example through deworming schemes. It can also be a platform for other health interventions.


How does it work?

WFP school meals can take the form of a mid-morning snack or a nutritious breakfast of porridge. WFP uses fortified food to ensure that children get the micronutrients they need. Studies show that diet and nutrition play a critical role in physical and intellectual development.

However something more is needed to attract the poorest girls to school. In its “take-home rations” projects, WFP provides basic food items, often including a sack of rice and a can of cooking oil, to families who send their daughters to school.


Stéphanie Savariaud

Public Information Officer

Stephanie Savariaud is a Public Information Officer for East and Central Africa based in Nairobi. Previously she was based in Dakar and Kinshasa.





‘As well as providing vital nourishment,

school meals act as a safety net for poor families and also help keep children in school.’



School Meals — In-depth



Where does WFP run school meals programmes?


Click here to see a full sized version of the map showing how many countries benefit from WFP school meals.

WFP school meals facts & figures 

Click here for a pdf containing all all the facts & figures on WFP school meals projects in 2008.

School meals programmes around the world


Click here to visit the Home Grown School Feeding website for technical support on policy and program and for evidenced-base data in the HGSF knowledge base.

Find here some information on the historical work on school meals programmes in Europe and North America produced by the School Nutrition Association .


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