Futures of 370 million children in jeopardy as school closures deprive them of school meals – UNICEF and WFP
ROME/NEW YORK, 29 April 2020 – As the COVID-19 crisis pushes up levels of hunger among the global poor, the World Food Programme and UNICEF are urging national governments to prevent devastating nutrition and health consequences for the 370 million children missing out on school meals amid school closures.
“For millions of children around the world, the meal they get at school is the only meal they get in a day. Without it, they go hungry, they risk falling sick, dropping out of school and losing their best chance of escaping poverty. We must act now to prevent the health pandemic from becoming a hunger catastrophe,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
School meals are especially critical for girls. In many poor countries, the promise of a meal can be enough to make struggling parents send their daughter to school, allowing her to escape heavy domestic duties or early marriage.
“School is so much more than a place of learning. For many children it is a lifeline to safety, health services and nutrition. Unless we act now – by scaling up lifesaving services for the most vulnerable children – the devastating fallout caused by COVID-19 will be felt for decades to come,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director.
Alongside school meal programmes, children in poor countries often benefit from health services - such as vaccinations and deworming - delivered through their schools.
Under the partnership, WFP and UNICEF will assist governments in the coming months to ensure that when schools reopen returning children benefit from school meals and health programmes. This will also provide an incentive for parents to send their children back to school.
UNICEF works to ensure that every child in Armenia is cherished, nurtured and cared for. Building on more than 70 years of global experience and 25 years of achieving results for children in Armenia, UNICEF is committed to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children living in poverty and isolation. From the maternity ward to the end of high school, UNICEF teams up with partners so that all children and families in Armenia benefit from improved policies, services and facilities across the country.
By putting together latest scientific evidence and expertise on children, UNICEF is uniquely positioned to provide support and advice, mobilise society and work hand in hand with decision makers and communities to find solutions to complex issues and transform projects into lasting changes that will benefit generations of children, from infancy to adulthood.
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.