The Global Child Nutrition Foundation Enriches Children’s Well-being 

by Sycamore May

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: The Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF)

What They Do: The Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) is dedicated to advancing school meal programs worldwide. They work with governments and their partners to improve the health and well-being of school-age children by advocating for and supporting sustainable, government-led school feeding programs. GCNF works with NGOs, academia, and the private sector to establish meaningful and responsible connections with governments, develop strategies for developing projects related to school feeding, and identify best practices for program management.

How They Do It: GCNF partners with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Mary’s Meals, Nascent Solutions, the Rockefeller Foundation, DSM, Tetra Laval, and the Tiger Brands Foundation. GCNF provides technical assistance, data, and insights from programs in 155 countries, and opportunities for technical exchanges to ensure the success and sustainability of school meal programs.

GCNF has two flagship programs: Since 1997, it has hosted an annual Global Child Nutrition Forum, which serves as a platform for school feeding policy makers, implementers, and other stakeholders from around the world to gather, learn, and support one another in a collegial setting. To date, there have only been two exceptions to the annual schedule in 2021 and 2023. Since 2019, GCNF has also implemented the Global Survey of School Meal Programs, a comprehensive, and first-of-its-kind, survey on the topic of school feeding that is administered to national governments worldwide.

Mission: To work  with government leaders and a diverse network of partners around the world to help them deliver sustainable and nutritious school meals that give every child the opportunity to learn and thrive.

Latest Project/Campaign: GCNF is now launching the third round of the Global Survey of School Meal Programs, which will begin in November 2023. The survey feeds into a global database, filling critical gaps in knowledge about school feeding  programs. The upcoming Global Survey will gather new information on diet quality, climate change, and program responses to crises, and will continue to track progress from previous years.

Major Funding: GCNF receives funding from the USDA and the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as grants from foundations and donations from businesses with aligned interests, and from individual donors.

Profit/Nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Not disclosed

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Through the GCNF’s extensive network, local and national governments gain access to a range of data and expertise to improve their school feeding operations. Results from the survey empower governments to better manage and advocate for the large-scale school feeding programs in their country. Learning exchanges, including the Global Child Nutrition Forum, facilitate peer-to-peer exchange of information among countries confronting similar challenges. Topics covered in these exchanges range from financing to agriculture, job creation, logistics, and resilience in the face of crises. 

GCNF equips governments with models and tools to ensure program quality via a Resource Library, and offers guidance through webinars on topics such as maintaining school meal operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and school- meal-coverage measurement. Using data from the Global Survey, GCNF shares insights on reducing food waste and highlights innovative approaches to growing, preparing, and storing food. GCNF also shares news and updates on school feeding around the world via its blog, which showcases country programs, partner thinkpieces, press releases, and more.


  • Location: Global presence; headquartered in Seattle, Washington 
  • Number of Full Time Staff: 5
  • Number of Volunteers: 3 long-term volunteers; 2-6 short-term volunteers annually
  • Areas Served: Through its U.S.-based and global team, GCNF is able to work with governments, partners, and communities around the world on school feeding-related projects. Through its flagship programs, the Global Survey and the Global Forum, GCNF is able to engage school-meal program leaders from around the world. To date, the Global Survey of School Meal Programs has received responses from 155 countries. The Global Child Nutrition Forum has been held in Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia, and the U.S. and is well attended by country representatives each year.
  • Year Started: GCNF was officially founded in 2006. The Forum started in 1997, but was under the auspices of the American School Food Service Association—now called the School Nutrition Association—until GCNF was founded.
  • Co-Founders: Gene White, George McGovern, Marshall Matz, and the then-leadership of the School Nutrition Association. 

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