East African Regional School Meals Coalition Network Conference joins forces to improve child nutrition
Ten SUN countries from the East African region met in June 2023 to share experiences and learn from each other, in an effort to ramp up advocacy around improving school meal programmes
The East African Regional School Meals Coalition Network met at a conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 26-27 June, presented Rwanda's achievements with regard to school meal programmes and laid the foundation for cross-border collaboration to address common nutrition challenges of the region.
Rwanda’s school meal programme has grown exponentially between 2020 and 2022, from serving 660,000 children to 3.8 million, and the Government has increased its budget for the national school feeding programme from Rwf 40 million (US$ 34,288) in 2021 to over Rwf 78 billion (US$ 66,862,551.6) in 2022-2023.
Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda drew inspiration from Rwanda's model. Rwanda's school meal programme not only provides nourishing meals, but also supports local agriculture by sourcing food from local farmers, thereby boosting the economy and fostering community resilience.
During the event, participants discussed the critical role of public-private partnerships in driving sustainable improvement in the quality of school feeding initiatives. Corporate entities and philanthropic organizations expressed their commitment by pledging donations and resources to support school meal programmes across the region.