Re-Imagining School Feeding: A High-Return Investment in Human Capital and Local Economies

Investing in human capital—the sum of a population’s health, skills, knowledge, and experience—can strengthen a country’s competitiveness in a rapidly changing world. Building human capital prepares work forces for the more highly skilled jobs of the future, which can drive more sustained growth and transform the trajectory of economies. Analysis shows that a quality education, combined with a guaranteed package of health and nutrition interventions at school, such as school feeding, can contribute to child and adolescent development and build human capital. School feeding programs can help get children into school and help them stay there, increasing enrollment and reducing absenteeism. Once children are in the classroom, these programs can contribute to their learning by avoiding hunger and enhancing cognitive abilities. The benefits are especially great for the poorest and most disadvantaged children.