School Feeding Program in Egypt Improves Youth Nutrition and Food Security

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
School Feeding Program

Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: Egypt National School Feeding Program

Overview: Egypt’s School Feeding Program (SFP) improves children’s nutrition, food security, and academic performance.

Location: Egypt

Population: 12.5 million students

Food policy category: Food security, nutrition

Program goals: To improve children’s nutrition, encourage school enrollment, and improve academic outcomes. 

How it works: The School Feeding Program provides children with a free fortified meal and/or snack while at school. The World Food Programme supports teachers as well by providing training in nutrition, emergency preparedness, and positive discipline.

Progress to date: The SFP has been operating in Egypt since 1968. In 2016 the program was expanded to reach all public schools, and in August of 2021 Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi announced an increase in the cost of bread nationwide to help support 12.2 million students receiving meals. 

Why it is important: Malnutrition and nutrition-related illnesses are prevalent among Egyptian youth. Anemia affects 8.2 million students; 3.4 million are obese; and 1.3 million have stunted growth. The SFP allows children to receive a nutritious meal fortified with necessary vitamins and minerals that help prevent or treat these illnesses while at the same time allowing families to save up to ten percent of their income that would otherwise be spent on lunches for their children. 

Program/Policy initiated: The World Food Programme has been supporting Egypt’s National School Feeding Program since 1968. 

Point of contact: N/A

Similar practices: The World Food Programme supports School Feeding Programs in more than 100 countries across West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, South Asia, Central Asia, and Central America. 

Evaluation: A study conducted by Metwally et al and published in 2020 concluded that Egyptian children who ate meals provided by the SFP had better academic records than children who did not consume SFP meals, although nutritional status was not significantly different between the two groups of children. 

Globally, the World Food Programme reports that SFPs encourage parents to enroll and keep their children in school rather than keeping them home to work or marrying off young girls.

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