The impact of school feeding program on nutritional status and school participation of school children
Malnutrition particularly under nutrition is a major public health problem affecting almost 8 million people worldwide. In Africa a large amount of the population is suffering from under nutrition. Out of this children take a considerable proportion. The school age is a very important phase in the life span of an individual with increased nutritional requirements to support growth and development.
Ethiopia, like any other developing country, is a country where this problem is abundantly seen. The continuance of hunger and malnutrition will have a significant impact on the health status and productivity of a nation in the long run. According to studies in 2015 about 31% of school children are undernourished. Hunger and undernutrition have a significant impact on child education. Improving children’s diets and nutrition will have a great impact in their behavior ,performance and effectiveness as an adult in the future.
Since children are the tools for lifting a country out of poverty, school feeding programs are popular among developing countries as a technique to alleviate poverty. School feeding programs are designed to advance the nutritional status of children, improve their school attendance and cognition. This programs usually target families with low socioeconomic status and schools with deprived attendance at which where the nutritional status of the children is compromised. This programs not only help the children to go to school but also directly or indirectly benefit the family as a whole.
In Ethiopia, a school feeding program which is designed to cover the country as a whole was designed by the ministry of education . Under this, a school feeding program which is under the supervision of Addis Ababa Bureau of Education was launched in February 2015 in 93 primary schools in Addis Ababa serving 5,106 children. It is a joint program by the office of the first lady and ‘Yenat Weg’ – a charity organization. This program aimed at improving the nutritional status of the children and decreasing the drop out rate. Currently, this program has expanded to all sub cities of Addis Ababa with more than 20,000 children benefiting from it.
The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of the school feeding program on nutritional status and class participation of school children. Additionally, the opportunities and the challenges that are related with the program would also be identified which can be used as a supportive document for the program. Furthermore, it seeks to inform stakeholders in the area about the effect of the program so that it could be helpful for similar school feeding programs.