Health and education through the transformational power of school meals


COVID-19 has disrupted education systems across the world, forcing school closures that have affected 90 percent of the world’s school children. We are witnessing the largest education crisis of our lifetime which has had huge implications for pupils’ and students’ learning, health and nutrition.

As the largest non-governmental of school meals, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is playing a major role supporting governments reach the most vulnerable children – assisting 7 million school children in 45 countries affected by school closures with take-home rations or cash-based transfers.

Since the beginning of the partnership in 2012, Mastercard, its partners and cardholders have contributed a total of US$33.4 million to WFP, to support school feeding, emergency response and other programmes.

For example, in 2019, Mastercard’s support helped WFP’s delivery of nutritious meals to 3,700 children in more than 60 schools in Honduras. These efforts served 2 municipalities with the highest rates of malnutrition. The WFP purchased food for these schools from 74 smallholder farmers, helping to support small business and employment at the local level.

Mastercard supports WFP’s school feeding programme around the world, from Cambodia, to Liberia, and Honduras (above). Photo: WFP/Boone Rodriguez

WFP is at the forefront of supporting governments in planning for the safe re-opening of schools and making sure that meals and health services reach the ones that need it the most. WFP’s school meals will not only provide the basics of nutritional food but will serve as a powerful incentive for children to return to school.

This pandemic is not just affecting children now, but it will have a lasting impact if we don’t intervene. Shockingly, 24 million additional children and youth could drop out or not have access to school next year due to the pandemic’s economic impact alone.

We need to ensure that a whole generation of the most vulnerable children are not left behind - we need to invest both in learning and in the learner. To find out more about WFP visit

WFP does not endorse any product or service. Photo: WFP/Daniel Boone Rodriguez.

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