The State of School
Feeding Worldwide 2022

An interactive

This report is WFP’s flagship publication and the main reporting mechanism of the School Meals Coalition. It provides an overview of how countries support their children through effective school meal programmes.

The State of School Feeding Worldwide publication is issued every two years and uses the best available data sources to provide an overview of coverage, implementation practices and costs of school-based health and nutrition programmes worldwide.


State of School Feeding
Worldwide 2022

Between 2013 and 2020, the number of children receiving school meals grew by 9 percent globally and 36 percent in low-income countries.

In early 2020, 388 million children, received daily school meals globally - making schoolfeeding the most extensive social safety net in the world.  

School meal programmes have been restored after the COVID-19 crisis when schools around the world closed their doors and have exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The programmes continue to expand, getting children back into school, providing a vital safety net for families and supporting more sustainable food systems.





EARLY 2020




LEARN MORE ABOUT School Feeding Worldwide 2020  

The COVID-19 pandemic brought an end to this decade of global growth of schoolfeeding programmes. The closure of schools worldwide exacerbated an already ongoing learning crisis and precipitated the largest education crisis in living memory.

At the height of the crisis, 199 countries had closed their schools and 370 million children subsequently missed out on what for many was their main nutritious meal of the day. 







Learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on school feeding

Despite the cessation of almost all school meal programmes worldwide when schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, in 2022 school meals programmes have been restored and have exceeded pre-pandemic levels and continue to expand- getting children back into school, providing a vital safety net for families, and supporting more sustainable food systems.

418 million children now benefit from school meals worldwide, which is 30 million more than the 388 million children before the pandemic in early 2020.

IN 2022



receiving school
meals globally



than the 388 million children
before the pandemic in early 2020

Children receiving school meals around the world

<0.5 million

0.5 - 1 million

1 - 5 million

>5 million

No data

North America


Latin America &


Middle East & North Africa


Europe & Central Asia


Sub-Saharan Africa



South Asia


East Asia & Pacific




sentence 2



The latest available data suggest that the number of children receiving school meals worldwide has increased since 2020. Domestic funds are the main source of funding in all countries.
Despite severe tightening of the fiscal space, low-income countries have increased their domestic funding for school meals, while donor support in these same countries has declined both proportionally and in real terms. This trend of increasing domestic funding is encouraging and confirms a growing prioritization of school meals by low-income governments.
An increasing number of countries are also strengthening and broadening the policy and legal frameworks governing their school meal programmes.

Global investments in school meals











Between 2020 and 2022, global investment in school meals increased by US$ 5 billion ​(from US$ 43 billion to US$ 48 billion).
Domestic funding represents over 98 percent of the share of funding for school meals globally.

Status of school meals policy frameworks in 2020 and 2022

87 percent of countries now have a school feeding policy in place (up from 79 percent in 2020).

Breakdown of aggregate expenditure by
source of funding in 2020 and 2022

Low-income countries have increased their domestic financing by 15 percent and today spend US$ 392 million on school meals.

WFP/Cassandra Prena

WFP/Hebatallah Munass

WFP/Cassandra Prena

The major challenge now is that the recovery following the pandemic has been least effective in low-income countries: coverage remains lowest where it is needed most.

Total number of children fed in 2020 and 2022
overall, income level

While globally the number of children fed has increased, low-income countries’ school meal programmes still reach 4 percent fewer children, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Coverage in 2022 by income category

Overall, approximately 41 percent of children enrolled in primary school benefit from school meal programmes globally. Unfortunately, coverage remains lowest in low-income countries where only 18 percent of children receive a daily, nutritious meal in school.

Breakdown of aggregate expenditure by source
of funding in 2020 and 2022

The share of domestic funding in low-income countries has increased from approximately 30 percent in 2020 to 45 percent in 2022, a total of US$ 392 million. During this same period, there has been a 6 percent reduction in international support, from approximately US$ 267 million in 2020 to US$ 214 million in 2022.

Learn more about school feeding programmes in 2022: scale, coverage and trends in Chapter 1 of the report.


The School Meals Coalition: progress and opportunities

The School Meals Coalition has emerged as a prominent and innovative vehicle for multilateral action and addresses multiple Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) outcomes.

The main goal of the School Meals Coalition is to ensure that, by 2030, every child receives a healthy, nutritious daily meal in school. To achieve this the member states set out three objectives:

Restore all national school meal programmes lost to the pandemic by 2023

Reach the 73 million most vulnerable children who were not reached even prior to the pandemic by 2030

Improve the quality and efficiency of school health and nutrition programmes globally by 2030


Asia and the Pacific

Latin America and the Caribbean


North America







*numbers accurate as of March 2023, updated information on the Coalition's website

WFP/Fredrik Lerneryd


In 2019, President Kagame and his Prime Minister called for a complete revamp of the national school meal programme and an ambitious, comprehensive national scale-up. School meals had become a national priority.
In 2021, as part of Rwanda’s commitments to the School Meals Coalition, Rwanda’s Minister of Education announced that the government would achieve universal coverage of school feeding for basic education and increased its budget from US$ 8 million in 2020 to US$ 33 million in 2021.

In 2022, Rwanda announced impressive progress:

    ​• Coverage increased from 660,000 to 3.8 million students
    • National budget increased from US$ 33 million to US$ 74 million

Rwanda is also working to strengthen programme links to local markets through local supply chains.


US$ 74 million

WFP/Alexis Masciarelli


Benin joined the School Meals Coalition with strong engagement from President Talon, who has made school meals a flagship initiative for the country. Over the past few years, Benin has made tremendous strides towards increasing the coverage and quality of its school meals programmes:

• In 2016, school meals barely reached one in five students ​with a dedicated budget of around US$ 1.5 million.
• In 2021, Benin committed to move towards universal school meals coverage with a national budget increase from US$ 79 million to US$ 240 million over the next five years.
• Over the next years, the national school meal programme is aiming to achieve 100 percent coverage.
​• Benin is also looking to improve the quality and sustainability of the programme and to introduce a national school meals law, which could help anchor the programme as a key government safety net.


US$ 79 million

Learn more about the School Meals Coalition on the website and in Chapter 2 of the report.



The global and strategic role of WFP in school health and nutrition

WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud

WFP/Simon Pierre Diouf

WFP/ Irenee Nduwayezu

WFP has reinforced its leadership by making school meals a corporate flagship intervention, strengthening its capacities at all levels to support governments and improving its ability to demonstrate results.

Overview of WFP school feeding programmes around the world in 2021

Number of children receiving  school meals in 2021 as a result of WFP's operational support

<0.1 million

0.1 - 0.2 million

0.2 - 0.4 million

0.5 - 0.7 million

> 0.7 million

Technical assistance only

No WFP programme

Latin America & Caribbean


Middle East & North Africa


Europe & Central Asia


Sub-Saharan Africa


South Asia


East Asia & Pacific


As the lead UN agency for this area of work, WFP supports the global school meals agenda in multiple ways: through technical and policy support WFP indirectly influences the quality of life, access to education and nutritional status of 107 million schoolchildren in 77 countries and local communities, including strengthening agricultural production and improving the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and partners across the food system value chain.

Where necessary, WFP also directly provides school meals to vulnerable children in support of national objectives.

In 2021, WFP provided school meals to 15.5 million children in 57 countries.

‘Climate-smart’ school meal programmes could be part of the vanguard of country efforts to become more climate resilient by diversifying diets, aligning agriculture and procurement to local food sovereignty, and by rethinking energy and farming practices.

Watch how WFP is making this happen in Sierra Leone.

WFP/Edmond Khoury

WFP/Giulio d'Adamo

WFP/Srawan Shrestha

School-Based Programme’s Theory of Change

The theory of change for WFP’s 2020–2030 School Feeding Strategy was developed in 2020, outlining the intended results and changes in the lives of beneficiaries. The theory of change is pitched at a global rather than a country-level model. Its results-based approach is to closely track yearly progress against these intended outcomes for each target group and impact pathway, namely girls and boys, their families, actors in the local value chain and governments.

Progress is measured through quantitative and qualitative indicators under each result, alongside evaluations, reviews and other learning exercises.

Learn more about WFP's work on school meals and our Theory of Change
in Chapter 4

School meal
programmes provide

than just
a meal

It is a platform that nourishes the next generation, creating jobs, economic growth, and longer-term development for entire countries


School meal programmes provide more than just a meal

School meal programmes provide a platform that nourishes the next generation, creating jobs, economic growth and longer-term development for entire countries

Social protection

WFP/Arlette Bashizi

For vulnerable families, the value of school meals can be equivalent to about 10 percent of a household’s income. Especially for families with several children, school meals can mean substantial savings.


WFP/Cassandra Prena

School meal programmes can increase enrolment by an average of 9 percent, while significantly increasing attendance rates and decreasing drop-out rates.


WFP/Giulio d'Adamo

Per 100,000 children fed, approximately 1,377 jobs are created by school feeding programmes along the value chain, particularly benefitting female entrepreneurs.
4 million jobs have been directly created through school meal programmes in 85 countries.

Health and nutrition

WFP/Alexis Masciarelli

Evidence suggests that well-designed school meals can reduce the prevalence of anaemia in girls by up to 20 percent.

WFP/Badre Bahaji

WFP/Andy Higgins

WFP/Ana Buitron

School meal programmes provide a fertile ground for research and innovation that can change the lives of millions of people

School meal programmes create an annual market of US$ 48 billion. This creates a huge and predictable market and offers an extraordinary opportunity to invest in sustainable food systems and diets, while responding proactively to the global food crisis.

The impressive returns from investments in school meal programmes make them sustainable for both countries and donors alike.

Learn more about the return on investment from school meal programmes and the Research Consortium’s work on Value for Money Studies in Chapter 3 of the report.

WFP/Badre Bahaji

WFP/Badre Bahaji

WFP/Hugh Rutherford

There is an opportunity to leverage the school meals platform and its annual market force for more climate-smart and sustainable food systems, that deliver better nutrition and more diverse diets.

Food systems and agriculture

WFP/Binai Lama

When school meal programmes purchase food locally, they match quality diets to local production, increase local agro-biodiversity and strengthen local food sovereignty. This can support smallholder farmers, especially rural women and indigenous producers, and increase the availability of fresh foods for the whole community.

Climate change

WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud

Climate-smart school meal programmes could be in the vanguard of country efforts to become more climate resilient by diversifying diets, aligning agriculture and procurement to local food sovereignty, and rethinking energy and farming practices. Local procurement of school meals also leads to shorter supply chains, resulting in lower carbon emissions and paving the way to a greener future.

Better nutrition & diet diversity

WFP/Michael Tewelde

Over the years, the focus of efforts to support school-aged children was primarily put on “learning” as a priority outcome, with much less attention paid to the “learner”. The “Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development: Knowledge Indicating Dietary Sufficiency: the BOND-KIDS Project” aims to fill the gaps in our understanding of how school feeding programmes impact children’s health and development via the amount and quality of dietary intake and subsequent nutritional status, and how to measure those outcomes. To support governments develop and implement nutrition guidelines and standards, which improve the nutritional quality, quantity and adequacy of foods and meals in school, FAO, WFP and BMEL have partnered on the project “Nutrition guidelines and standards for safeguarding schoolchildren and adolescents’ right to food”.

Food fortification

Government of France Ministry of Education

Together with the Rockefeller Foundation, WFP aims to scale up the consumption of nutritious foods, such as fortified wholegrain flour, for school-age children through leveraging school feeding procurement as an enabler for better nutrition outcomes. For example, fortified wholegrain for example addresses the need for affordable nutritious food to serve some of the most vulnerable populations, while maximizing the nutritional value per cost unit.

Learn more about home-grown school feeding’s impact on biodiversity and its contribution to diet diversification, as well as new projects and collaborations on nutrition and food systems, in Chapter 3 of the report.

WFP/Alexis Masciarelli

WFP/Arete/Therese Di Campo

WFP/Cassandra Prena

School feeding matters for the health and well-being of adolescents

Adolescents’ well-being is dependent on several factors outlined in the diagram below.

School meal programmes are an essential component of a truly integrated healthy and health promoting education system that contributes to achieving adolescent well-being.

Click on each triangle to learn more

Click on each domain to learn more
Click on each triangle to learn more

Good Health and optimum nutrition

Good health and optimum nutrition extend beyond the absence of disease and malnutrition to feeling well and having the capacity to cope vigorously with daily tasks and maintain essential functions in the face of adversity (Baltag, 2022a). To truly integrate health promotion, education systems must take a whole-school approach to health promotion, which should be integrated in all aspects of school life: school policies, the physical and social environment, curriculum, links with parents and school community, and access to school health services.

Read more

Connectedness, positive values and contribution to society

Feeling connected with peers and other important figures in life and feeling valued by those people is a significant source of social and emotional support, which can protect adolescents from psychological distress. Schools should encourage positive relationships between peers and can be an important influence shaping attitudes and values, with school staff serving as important role models. School meals can support this domain by providing opportunities for adolescents to be involved in decision making about the food that is provided and have their opinions taken seriously. School meals and nutrition education also encourage healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle and can ensure adolescents feel empowered to take responsibility for their own health.

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Safety and a supportive environment

School meals can not only ensure that every adolescent has access to safe food and potable water, school feeding programmes can also support equity and equality in education settings, supporting equal rights and opportunities for all adolescents. For instance, in contexts where girls’ education is not valued as highly as boys’, school feeding programmes particularly increase girls’ enrolment in education and retention rates. Specially integrated school health and nutrition approaches can also create a more responsive environment, which can offer access to a wide range of safe and stimulating opportunities for personal development, for instance through school gardens, physical and nutrition education. 

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Learning, competence, education, skills and employability

By ensuring that adolescents have access to nutritious meals, school meals can support adolescents’ ability and motivation to learn (Maijo, 2018). Through nutrition education and potential opportunities to support the cooking of meals, school meals can also support adolescents to develop the resources, life and decision-making skills, and competencies to select nutritious food, and increase employability and confidence of the students. 

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Agency and resilience

School feeding programmes can make an important contribution to an adolescent´s agency and resilience. For example, school feeding programmes are proven to generate a high return on investment in human capital, especially the earning power of women (Bundy, Silva, et al., 2018). School feeding programmes can strengthen an adolescent’s ability to develop self-esteem and agency to choose and prepare nutritious foods, especially if the programme is linked to dietary education, and if students are given the opportunity to participate in choosing menus or even in designing and preparing nutritious meals.

Read more

Learn more about how school meal programmes are supporting the health and well-being of adolescents globally in the Special Report Chapter of the publication.

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