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International Partnerships

Providing nutritious meals for Malawi's school children

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Going to bed and waking up hungry is a daily reality for many children in Malawi. Suffering from poverty and food insecurity, malnutrition rates are among the highest in Southern Africa. Children frequently miss breakfast. For these children, school is more than a place to learn – it also provides them with a much-needed nutritious meal to start the day.

Through the World Food Programme School Meals Programme, the European Union is working to improve the health and nutrition of schoolchildren throughout the country. Children like 7-year-old Langizo.

His mother, Joyce, struggles to feed her family of 5 children, particularly when her harvests are poor – a problem compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools closed, Joyce had more mouths to feed at home, meaning breakfast was often skipped by Langizo and his siblings.

Now schools have reopened, and Langizo goes to school happily knowing he will receive a good meal when he arrives.

Joyce Neleche
Joyce Neleche – Copyright: WFP Malawi / Francis Thawani
When school was open, my children would happily go to school…knowing they would eat breakfast there.
- Joyce Neleche
Joyce’ children happily waiting to be served breakfast
Joyce’ children happily waiting to be served breakfast – Copyright: WFP Malawi / Francis Thawani

The programme does much more than provide children with a full tummy. It contributes to ensuring they reach their full potential, reducing health related absences and improving awareness about nutritious and healthy diets.

Langizo dreams of becoming a doctor one day. Learning on a full stomach is one of the best ways to help ensure he can realise his dreams and break the cycle of poverty.

I want to become a medical doctor when I grow up because the sick need help in hospitals.
- Langizo

Funded by the European Union, the WFP’s School Meals Programme in Malawi has been successfully implemented in partnership with the local government since 1999.

Building on these experiences, in 2019, the National School Meals Strategy was reviewed to create a more sustainable system for the country, prioritising most vulnerable districts and further developing the already successful model used for school meals.

Overall, the programme aims to promote the nutrition and health of 280,000 children through more diversified school meals.

Langizo – Copyright: WFP Malawi / Francis Thawani