Global School Feeding Monitoring Map:
Promoting South-South Cooperation through Mapping of Country-led Responses under COVID-19

School-aged children have been severely affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. In April 2020, schools closed in more than 190 countries, affecting 1.57 billion children and youth – 90 percent of the world’s student population. An estimated 370 million schoolchildren are now missing out on school meals and other essential services such as water, sanitation, and hygiene. For these children, the food they receive at school is often their only meal of the day. Lack of food in school weakens children’s immune systems making them more vulnerable to infections and disease, like COVID.  In more general terms it deprives them of a lifeline to health and nutrition. To support children and their families and protect gains in human capital development there is urgent need to ensure children get nutrition and health support while schools are closed and as they re-open.

As a key partner in this field, the World Food Programme (WFP) provides support to governments in adapting school feeding and school health programmes during the pandemic, identifying alternative solutions, such as take-home rations or cash-based transfers. To provide a better overview of the different solutions, WFP has launched the Global Monitoring of School Meals during COVID-19 School Closures to map country-led responses to COVID-19. In this crisis, data is incredibly important because it allows WFP and governments to identify the magnitude of the problem and identify where to focus the attention and investments.

WFP and UNOSSC are well positioned to facilitate South-South cooperation in order to promote peer learning and joint problem analysis in relation to social protection systems, food systems, and basic services (nutrition and school-based programmes). In the “niche area” between humanitarian and development cooperation, WFP builds on its dual mandate to enable national systems to become more shock-responsive to adapt to and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. To do that, WFP also counts with the strong experience in facilitating South-South and triangular cooperation for school feeding programmes from the WFP Centre of Excellence (CoE) Against Hunger in Brazil. WFP CoE Brazil’s South-South support continues through virtual exchanges and remote assistance (Click here for more information).

To support the safe reopening of schools, WFP has joined UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Bank and published the joint Framework for safe re-opening of schools. It is vital to prioritize the wellbeing of children and school health and nutrition, including prioritizing school feeding programmes being in place once schools open, together with proper distancing procedures, and water, sanitation and hygiene measures. This is mentioned in the new Framework and in the guidance for nutrition in schools produced by WFP, FAO and UNICEF. While COVID-19 has rapidly affected countries worldwide, its impact is likely to be long-lasting and the world needs all partners onboard to mitigate the impact of the crisis. WFP, UNOSSC and other development partners will continue to work together to support countries from the Global South to respond immediately and effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and to mitigate the negative impact on the most vulnerable

Examples of Country-led Responses

Recognizing the expertise available in the Global South, WFP is collaborating with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in mapping national adaptations and innovations on school-based programmes, including their intersection with national social protection programmes, as a vehicle of governments strategy in social protection.  The objective of this exercise is to provide a dynamic repository of efforts in addressing the outbreak and enabling countries to quickly access information, compare practices, and learn from one another through South-South knowledge exchanges.  Additionally, both WFP and UNOSSC will work with partners to systematise the information gathered and generate analysis and discussions through webinars to promote South-South exchanges.  This aims to inform countries of the global South with options to relieve the burden of COVID-19 impact for the poor.


On March 14, 2020, the Government of Argentina announced nation-wide school closures were going to be put in effect. With that announcement, the government made clear that schools providing meals to vulnerable school-aged children would remain open, and take-home rations would be picked up by one individual per household. In addition to in-kind support, the government also announced that it has rolled out a food voucher programme delivered through the food card (Alimentar card). In March, the Ministry of Social Development issued guidelines for the safe design of school feeding implementation plans during the pandemic. This included increasing dry and fresh foods for food assistance at school canteens, promoting collaborations between actors to guarantee the nutritional security of children. Countries with similar contexts can learn from this model as a good example of how to adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19 through food vouchers, in-kind support and food delivery strategies.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Education website:


In Bhutan 88% of children aged between 6 to 23 months do not have a minimum acceptable diet. The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the nationwide scaling up of micronutrient supplementation for children aged between 6 to 23 months. Children are currently out of school and this raises concerns over both continuity of education and nutrition. The Royal Government of Bhutan collaborated with WFP and UNICEF to provide take-home rations for 10,000 of the most vulnerable school children along with education material on healthy eating and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) to decrease the adverse effects of COVID-19 amongst school children. The proposed food basket of take-home rations will consist of rice and oil fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, chickpeas, and pulses. Countries can learn from Bhutan’s provision of education on COVID-19 prevention measures to reduce exposure and the spread of the virus while considering a balanced nutritional intake for children.


In Bolivia, there are over 70,000 infected cases of COVID-19, with about 2.4 million school children left without school meals. The coronavirus is causing disruptions and putting the livelihoods of many at risk. To mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19, the government rolled out the Bono Familia programme which allocates 500 Bolivianos (approximately $73 USD) per primary and secondary-school-aged child in families most affected by the pandemic. The programme took effect in April, with a total of 800 million Bolivianos distributed to the beneficiaries of the bond. Countries looking to expand Social Protection programmes for COVID-19 can learn from Bolivia’s example.


In Brazil, the government has changed some aspects of the Bolsa Familia programme, to maintain and even expand coverage, and has proposed a series of Emergency Cash Withdraws, so the social protection floor in the country can support families being affected by COVID-19. By maintaining the cash assistance through Bolsa Familia and, in some cases, combining it with the Emergency Cash Withdraws, the government is scaling up an existing scheme to reach those at risk during the pandemic. Regarding the situation at schools, all public schools were suspended, leaving nearly 40 million children and adolescents without daily school meals from March 2020 to September 2020, when more stable regions of the country have planned to start reopening. To mitigate that, the Brazilian Government passed a new regulation that allows states and municipalities to continue to purchase food from local and smallholder farmers while the schools are closed during the emergency response. This adaptation enables school authorities to distribute purchased foodstuffs to students’ families in the form of kits and continue supporting smallholder farmers and local markets. Meanwhile, states have also been announcing other measures to assist families and children who depend on school meals, in order to complement initiatives from the central government. Brazil’s long-standing experience in school feeding programmes can benefit countries looking for good practices in innovative ways to finance and distribute school feeding packages. Source: WFP Centre of Excellence in Brazil


In Chile, the Ministry of Education (Junaeb) is delivering individual food baskets to mitigate COVID-19 impacts to replace the meals that children would normally receive in school canteens. Each of the baskets includes the breakfast and lunch rations equivalent to 15 business days for students benefiting from the School Feeding and Early Childhood programs. This benefit is complementary to the 2.5 million baskets announced by the government in the framework of the Food for Chile campaign. The delivery format will be scheduled to avoid crowds and the possible spread of COVID-19. The baskets are based on the Minsal food guides and the Junaeb food structures, which delivers varied baskets that fulfil the nutritional needs of children in each region. Interested countries can learn how to diversify each food basket to suit the needs of various nutritional deficiencies based on region while observing COVID-19 social distancing measures.


Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, the Ministry of Education established a resolution in March for the “General Protocol for Food Distribution in public educational centers” which provides instructions on the protocol for school closures and the distribution of school meals in view of COVID-19. The protocol provides 850,000 students, that were benefiting from the national school feeding programme (PANEA, Spanish acronym), with take-home rations consisting of a package of perishable and non-perishable items to offset the nutritional impact of COVID-19-induced school closures. Due to the development of COVID-19, a second instalment of perishable and non-perishable food was continued for three additional weeks from April 20 to May 10, 2020. The equivalent of lunch portions were delivered for the student beneficiaries of PANEA. ANDE, a member organisation of Education International (EI), has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Education to deliver food packages to the families of students who are normally fed in the school canteens. Countries can learn the importance of partnering with the private sector (e.g. ANDE) to collaboratively address the effects of COVID-19 on school feeding programmes.


In Colombia, due to school closures, around 4,029,869 children are missing out on school meals. The National Government issued Decree 533 in April 2020, through which the operation of the new modalities of the School Feeding Program (PAE) in households is expanded. This regulation will allow children and adolescents in the official education sector to continue receiving the nutritional supplement for consumption in their homes, for the duration of the Health Emergency caused by COVID-19. The delivery method for school meals will be determined by each territory, based on recommendations from the Ministry of Health to avoid crowds. According to the Ministry of Education, as of June 2,067,708 bonds have been redeemed and 63,032 food baskets have been delivered to rural school students.

Dominican Republic

As of June 2020, the Dominican Republic Government’s National Institute of Student Welfare (INABIE) and the Ministry of Education has delivered 30 million food rations to the Fathers, Mothers and Tutors (an association that distributes the school meals) of the students of the public schools, because of schools closures due to COVID-19. This is in line with the presidential provision to guarantee school feeding in the face of COVID-19 and with school closures. INABIE estimates that 1,800,000 food kits (take-home rations) will be delivered; of which 1,400,000 correspond to the Extended School Day, and the rest to other modalities of the PAE programme. Countries can learn how to use public schools for distribution of school meals while observing COVID-19 regulations to limit exposure to the virus.


The Government of Guatemala has organized through Parent Organizations (OPF), take-home rations for schoolchildren. Each child is given 15 days worth of school feeding. To distribute the food, the OPF received guidelines to avoid crowds in schools. At the time of delivery, it is recommended to have no more than groups of 10, keep a meter distance between people and wash their hands with soap and water frequently. These are preventive measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry of Education (Mineduc) sent circulars with the provision to the 30,428 pre-primary and primary schools so that principals and the OPFs organize, buy non-perishable products and distribute them safely.


India’s school feeding programme (known as the mid-day meals or MDM) is the largest school feeding programme in the world reaching approximately 100 million school children and has been a mandatory social protection programme since 2001. The Indian Government adapted its Mid Day Meal scheme to ensure that schoolchildren continue to receive their basic nutritional sustenance during the pandemic. Modalities for distribution range from cash-based transfers to households or the delivery of uncooked grains or cooked meals which will be decided by individual states within India. As of June 4th, 2020, there are 18 States and Union Territories (UTs) in the country where the Mid-Day Meals Scheme is ongoing due to the state level guidance issued and action taken on the ground, in line with the central guidance initiated. States and UTs follow a decentralized model for school meals delivery to allow for the best adaptation to local contexts. Within these 18 States, 9 distribute dry food rations, 2 distribute food security allowances while the remaining distribute a mix of both. Countries with similar contexts can learn how decentralizing the delivery modalities of school meals can be more suitable to local contexts.


In Liberia, 1.5 million children are currently out of school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its COVID-19 emergency response programme, Ministry of Education in collaboration with the WFP is providing take-home dry rations to all the nearly 100,000 girls and boys for use by their entire households. This is to avert child hunger and encourage children to continue studying their lessons at home. Liberia has previous experience in adapting to viral epidemics and implementing swift mitigating initiatives. WFP developed Standard Operating Procedures for take-home rations and food distribution in the context of Ebola that were used and adapted for COVID-19. This included a detailed plan for implementers of before, during and after distribution of food.


In Nigeria, the National Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Programme was greatly affected by the impacts of COVID-19 such as school closures. The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, announced the distribution of food vouchers for school children to continue receiving support after schools closed. The programme is providing food vouchers that enable school children to receive food packages and targets 37,589 households monthly with children in Public Primary Schools years 1-3, as of June 2020. This food package is worth N4,200 or 10.85 USD for thirty days and will assist school children in having nutritional meals daily while reducing exposure to the virus. Countries can learn how to adapt a national School Feeding programme to COVID-19 measures.


In Peru, as of 29 June, the Ministry of Health reported 282,365 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide. The National Program of School Feeding Qali Warma of the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion (MIDIS) started its second disbursement of rations in view of COVID-19, in May, for 1,027,153 students in 3,901 public educational institutions nationwide. For this purpose, each of the members of the School Feeding Committees (CAE) will be provided with masks, gloves, aprons, in addition to receiving training on social distancing to avoid any viral proliferation to the detriment of the students. Before distribution, these products undergo strict monitoring and release protocols in the supplier’s warehouse. These procedures are necessary, since it allows verifying compliance with current health regulations and program requirements. Countries can learn how to train personnel in the quality and safety procedures for storing meals and the distribution of school meals while maintaining COVID-19 mitigating measures.

South Africa

In South Africa, more than 11 million children missed school due to COVID-19 school closings at the beginning of the pandemic in the country. With one of the highest rates of HIV infections in the world, there is a need to quickly mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and reduce exposure to the virus through social distancing and other key measures for these vulnerable populations as much as possible. The Department of Basic Education and Department of Social Development is currently working with The Tiger Brands Foundation to identify food insecure families within the 101 schools they support to provide food support. The Tiger Brands Foundation is a valuable partner to the government as it has the overall goal of “broad based community impact, and will be for the benefit of non-fee paying schools, vulnerable groups in society as well as projects that promote sustainable livelihoods.”[1] In South Africa’s Gauteng Province, the Minister of Education Panyaza Lesufi has announced they will begin food distribution and dignity packs for girls including masks and gloves to be provided to children who relied on the school nutrition program. As of July, schools are reopening across the country with a phased approach and in compliance with the health, safety and social distancing measures for COVID-19. Countries can learn how to address COVID-19 impacts while collaborating with non-governmental associates to involve all possible partners and reach the most vulnerable rapidly. For more information, visit the Ministry of Education website.