Young children attend class at the School of Chibodia, in Udong, Cambodia.
As different strategies for ensuring universal primary school enrollment continue to be explored, the World Bank and the UN World Food Program (WFP) believe that the implementation of free meal programs in schools is showing an increase in sustained enrollment. This information was outlined in Rethinking School Feeding: Social Safety Nets, Child Development, and the Education Sector, a report released mutually by the two organizations. In the report, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran state: “In the face of global crises, we must now focus on how school feeding programs can be designed and implemented in a cost-effective and sustainable way to benefit and protect those most in need of help today and in the future.”
Free meal programs are already popular education incentives in high- and middle-income countries. According to the World Bank, Japan has one of the most comprehensive school feeding programs in the world. Moreover, the US Department of Agriculture reports that over 30 million US students participated in free meal programs in 2008, and are expecting the number to increase by over 5 per cent in some cities by the end of 2009.