Stepping up school-based food and nutrition education
Schools are an ideal setting for creating synergies to address malnutrition and contribute to sustainable development, in that they are able to impact education, health, food security and nutrition simultaneously through various access points and opportunities. The natural linkages between nutrition and education are widely recognized and supported by evidence. Despite this, nutrition education, one of the most direct linkages and globally recommended strategies to foster better diets and food choices, has historically been underfunded and undermined by most sectors.
In this context, and recognizing that school-based food and nutrition education (SFNE) can only be advanced by forming partnerships and by involving global and national organizations, donors, academia and other key actors, FAO, in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU), organised an international expert consultation to develop a shared vision of effective SFNE and its future in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The international expert consultation “Stepping up School-based Food and Nutrition Education: Exploring Challenges, Finding Solutions and Building Partnerships” was held on 28–30 November 2017 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. The consultation brought together 63 experts from more than 25 countries, representing various fields in education, communication, food systems and nutrition. It was the first specialized global meeting of its kind.
It provided stakeholders from different fields of expertise working with school-based programmes a platform to discuss challenges and define priorities, competencies and educational innovations with the main focus on SFNE. It also laid the groundwork for a strategic framework of cooperation to strengthen SFNE in LMICs, employing a dynamic approach and creating a sense of shared responsibility for the resultant technical outputs and recommendations. Most importantly, the consultation launched a renewed vision, going beyond the integration of SFNE as stand-alone, disconnected and fragmented interventions and a largely academic requirement in schools.