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Primary school students in Madagascar enjoy their school lunch. Credit: WFP/Anna Yla Kauttu

Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition

The research initiative of the School Meals Coalition of 95+ countries worldwide.

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About us

The Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition is one of five initiatives of the School Meals Coalition: a convening of 95+ national governments committed to rebuilding, improving and scaling up the provision of school meals and complementary school health services by 2030. The Consortium was established at the request of the School Meals Coalition member states, who called for a global Research Consortium to provide independent, credible evidence to inform the design of equitable, efficient and cost-effective national school health and nutrition programmes.   

Areas of research

The Research Consortium aims to respond to the research requests of the School Meals Coalition member states by building a holistic evidence base, covering all aspects of school health and nutrition research to inform decision-making. Research is currently focused in six areas: (i) identifying which school-based health interventions have the strongest evidence; (ii) determining the value-for-money of school health interventions and their impact on education outcomes; (iii) documenting good practices from national school meal programmes across high- and low-income countries; (iv) achieving consensus on the nutrition indicators to collect for school-age children and adolescents; (v) examining the relationship between school meals and diet, food systems and climate; and (vi) establishing a platform for early career researchers and youth who have an interest in school health and nutrition.

Planet-Friendly School Meals

Read the Research Consortium's evidence-based white paper on "School Meals and Food Systems: Rethinking the consequences for climate, environment, biodiversity, and food sovereignty". Produced in collaboration with 164 contributors from 84 organizations worldwide.

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What is the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition?

The Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition is the research initiative of the School Meals Coalition, established at the request of the 95+ member states to provide policymakers with access to independent, robust, compelling, and actionable evidence on school health and nutrition, thus enabling them to develop well-informed national programmes following the COVID-19 pandemic. With a small secretariat based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Consortium operates as a global network of networks, guided by a ten-year independent research strategy on school health, to promote quality research and provide guidance on effective policymaking on school health and nutrition programming.

A graphic showing the Research Consortium's mandate and objectives

Establishing the Research Consortium: Timeline

April 2020 - The impact of COVID-19 on school-aged children

At the beginning of 2020, national school feeding programmes around the world delivered school meals to 388 million children each day in 161 countries, feeding more children than at any time in human history. By April that year, the COVID-19 pandemic had brought a decade of global progress in school nutrition programmes to a halt and resulted in a major education crisis, excluding 370 million children from their school meal, which was for many their only reliable meal of the day.

The situation highlighted the need for school health and nutrition programmes that are more inclusive, efficient, and resilient to ensure the health and well-being of school children, while providing a safety net, creating human capital, supporting national growth, and promoting economic development.

Maps demonstrating the coverage of school meals globally pre- and post-COVID-19

 

The country-led demand for the establishment of the School Meals Coalition

In this context, (now) more than 80 national governments, UN agencies, think tanks, and NGOs launched the international School Meals Coalition, pledging to drive actions that will urgently re-establish, improve, and scale-up school health and nutrition programmes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a nutritious meal at school by 2030. The School Meals Coalition is supported by an operational secretariat based at the UN World Food Programme, comprising four initiatives that were established at the request of the member states to assist with the scaling up of their national school meals programmes. 

Circular graphic showing the layers of governance within the School Meals Coalition

 

May 2021 - Launching a global Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition

For the countries of the School Meals Coalition to successfully improve and scale up their national school health and nutrition programmes, they called for the establishment of a global Research Consortium to produce and assemble independent, credible evidence to fill knowledge gaps and equip them with the information needed to design successful programmes.

In May 2021, the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition was formally launched with a small Secretariat hosted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Watch the launch event

 

November 2021 - Endorsement from the United Nations

In a joint declaration published in November 2021, the leaders of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), committed to assisting the School Meals Coalition. Specifically, the letter declared its support for the establishing of a Research Consortium to assist the countries of the coalition in evidence-based decision-making on the health, nutrition, and wellbeing of their school-age children.

Read the full declaration here

 

How we work
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Global Communities of Practice

A figure showing the organizational structure of the Research Consortium, with the countries of the SMC at the top

The Consortium’s strategic research agenda responds to the requests of the member states of the School Meals Coalition, with the aim of building a global evidence base on school health and nutrition over a 10-year period, until 2030.

With a lean operational Secretariat based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the Research Consortium operates as a global network-of-networks, coordinating research through six Communities of Practice (CoPs) made up of researchers based at leading academic institutions all over the world.

Each Community of Practice focuses on a different research priority as identified by the School Meals Coalition member states. Read more about our Communities of Practice

 

National research hubs

In order to effectively respond to the specific research needs of the 95+ member states of the School Meals Coalition, the Research Consortium engages in-country experts to harness the unique expertise of those most familiar with the context in which the research is being conducted. Through these national research hubs, the Consortium is able to provide useful, contextually relevant, and appropriate guidance to the policymakers and parliamentarians of the School Meals Coalition.

 

Equitable partnerships

The success of the Consortium relies on equitable research partnerships with a broad range of public, private, and multilateral actors who share a commitment to improving child development, education and wellbeing. The Consortium, together with its Communities of Practice, follows equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) principles by engaging partner institutions in discussions with prospective donors, leveraging virtual platforms for collaborations across geographies and disciplines, and recognizing contributions of all contributors in its publications.

Who we are

The Research Consortium is a global network-of-networks of academic partners and institutions, coordinated by a small Secretariat hosted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Research is carried out by Communities of Practice based at institutions all over the world. 

RCSHN profiles
Profiles List
Secretariat Team
Prof Donald Bundy

Donald
Bundy

Professor of Epidemiology and Developmen
Director
Ms Linda Schultz

Linda
Schultz

SHN Consortium Senior Operations Lead
Senior Operations Lead
Mrs Samantha Owen

Samantha
Owen

Project Manager
Miss Kate Morris

Kate
Morris

Communications Officer
Communications Lead

Celine
Ophelders

Philanthropy Manager
Philanthropy Lead
Research areas
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Photograph of children eating lunch at a primary school in Burundi
Photo credit: WFP/Hugh Rutherford

The Research Consortium is facilitating collaboration between leading academic institutions, national governments, UN bodies and civil society to build independent evidence to inform effective policymaking on school health and nutrition. The Consortium is made up of six global Communities of Practice, which cover the following research areas: (i) Analytics & Metrics; (ii) Impact & Evidence; (iii) Good Examples; (iv) Nutrition Measurement; (v) Diet & Food Systems; and (vi) Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network.

Communities of Practice - Strategic focus areas

Analytics & Metrics

The Analytics & Metrics Community of Practice (CoP) has been established to ensure that cross-sectoral evidence in the area of school health and nutrition is used effectively by both practitioners and policymakers. This CoP will support data collection, analysis, and the publication of results, initially focusing on:

  • Quantifying benefits and returns of school health interventions in terms of Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling (LAYS), starting with school meal programmes.
  • Conducting economic evaluation assessments of the value for money, return on investment and equity and gender impact of school health interventions, with country-level analysis underway in six countries in Africa. This effort is working through the economic communities in the region (East African Community, Economic Community of West African States, and the Southern African Development Community) to establish a platform for economists across the region to lead similar analyses going forward. Find out more

The Analytics & Metrics CoP is a voluntary network of researchers and practitioners undertaking research and other projects related to school health and nutrition. Its objectives are the following:

  • To provide assurance, in an advisory capacity only, that will maximise the quality and relevance of the research generated by its participants.
  • To share data, knowledge and solutions with other participants who are engaged in mission-critical, strategic research that supports evidence-based decision-making for school health and nutrition programmes.
  • To provide the opportunity for stakeholders, who may not otherwise be in contact with each other, to stimulate learning and promote collaboration between participants in an inclusive space, for example through establishing north-south and south-south partnerships, and facilitating networking between interested parties.
  • To mobilise and sub-grant resources both for primary and secondary research in school health.

The Analytics & Metrics CoP will contribute to the relevance, impartiality and credibility of the research by bringing together a range of viewpoints and ensuring a transparent process.

The CoP invites interested participants to contact us to learn more on the research or how to contribute to this initiative.

Publications

Verguet S, Limasalle P, Chakrabarti A, Husain A, Burbano C, Drake L, Bundy DAP. The broader economic value of school feeding programs in low- and middle-income countries: estimating the multi-sectoral returns to public health, human capital, social protection and the local economy. Frontiers in Public Health 2020; 8:587048.

Contact Us

Co-Chairs:

Impact & Evidence

This Community of Practice (CoP) is updating a Cochrane/Campbell systematic review to assess the impact of school health and nutrition in the key education metrics that are used to select “smart buys” for the sector.

The Impact & Evidence CoP is a voluntary, network of researchers and practitioners undertaking research related to school health and nutrition. Its objectives are the following:

  • To provide assurance, in an advisory capacity only, that will maximise the quality and relevance of the research generated by the Cochrane Review.
  • To share knowledge and/or solutions with other members who are engaged in mission-critical, strategic research that supports evidence-based decision-making for school health and nutrition programmes.
  • To provide the opportunity for stakeholders, who may not otherwise be in contact with each other, to stimulate learning and promote collaboration in an inclusive space, for example through establishing north-south and south-south partnerships.

The CoP will contribute to the relevance, impartiality and credibility of the research/evaluations by bringing together a range of viewpoints and ensuring a transparent process. It held its inaugural meeting in March 2021.

Publications

Kristjansson E, Osman M, Dignam M, Labelle PR, Magwood O, Huerta Galicia A, Cooke-Hughes P, Wells GA, Krasevec J, Enns A, Nepton A, Janzen L, Shea B, Liberato SC, Garner JA, Welch V. School feeding programs for improving the physical and psychological health of school children experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD014794.

Contact Us

Chair: Elizabeth Kristjansson, kristjan@uottawa.ca

Good Examples

School meal programs are among the most ubiquitous social programming offered worldwide, however, there is little documentation as to how national programmes are organised, financed, and monitored.

The Good Examples Community of Practice (CoP) aims to assess and showcase the enabling factors in the design, implementation, and financing of large-scale and long-standing national school meal programmes, through the following activities:

  • Coordinating with government partners to establish the enabling environment and operational structures that facilitate robust national school health programs, based on lessons learned from both long-established programs and those reaching the highest number of children.
  • Organising the development of these case studies to build an evidence base on service delivery methodology and to facilitate more effective implementation of interventions targeted to school-age children and adolescents. There is particular interest in consolidating learnings from long established programmes, particularly among countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as from countries with the largest programmes such as Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.
  • Considering the impact, challenges and lessons learnt from service delivery disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and how governments can better design crisis-resilient school meal programmes.

Publications

All completed case studies of national school meals programmes can be found on the Research Consortium's Publications page.

Events

Good Examples Summer Meeting, 19 June 2023

Having formally launched in May 2022, the Good Examples Community of Practice held its first annual Summer Meeting in June 2023 to reflect on progress to date with developing case studies of the national school meals programmes of the countries of the School Meals Coalition. Representatives from countries who have completed a case study shared their insights on the process to provide advice and guidance to those who are planning to undertake the activity. 

Watch the Good Examples Summer Meeting

Launch of the France School Food Case Study, 4 September 2023

On 4 September 2023, the Good Examples CoP held a virtual event to formally launch its case study on the French school meals programme. Moderated by Professor Sylvie Avallone, Co-Chair of the Good Examples CoP and lead author on the case study, the event brought together the researchers who worked on the study to discuss the strengths, challenges and future direction of school meals in France.

Watch the French case study launch in English

Watch the French case study launch in French

Contact Us

Co-chairs: 

Coordinator: Aurelie Fernandez (Aurelie.Fernandez@lshtm.ac.uk)

 

Nutrition Measurement

Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development: Knowledge Indicating Dietary Sufficiency: The BOND-KIDS Project Community of Practice (CoP)

The Nutrition Measurement CoP, led by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, and the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is using the Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development (BOND) platform to establish a common framework of nutritional indicators to monitor the nutritional status of school age children and adolescents. The framework will help develop, strengthen and evaluate efforts to meet nutritional needs and optimise outcomes.

This CoP comprises four Thematic Working Groups focusing on the following areas:

  • Nutrition and biology/function;
  • Factors in the external environment affecting nutrition of children and adolescents;
  • Assessment of nutritional status and function; and
  • Translational and implementation issues to be considered to support program development and evaluation

A Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) consisting of representatives of US Government agencies (USDA, CDC, USAID, NIH), UN agencies (WHO, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, UN Nutrition), and civil society has been constituted to provide organisational feedback and content oversight.

This effort will be carried out in phases, with the first phase to include the identification of what is known and where the gaps exist. This process will inform a detailed research agenda.

Organigramme with coloured boxes representing the Scientific Steering Committee, Secretariat and four working groups
BOND-KIDS organisational structure

Publications

Forthcoming

Contact Us

Co-chairs:

 

Diet & Food Systems

The Diet & Food Systems Community of Practice was established in May 2023 to serve as a research and advisory body, as well as a networking platform, on issues related to school feeding, climate change, and food systems. In particular, its focus areas include agrobiodiversity and diets; climate-responsive approaches to school meals; food fortification and biofortification; fermented and preserved foods; food cultures and heritage; gender, youth, and social inclusion; and indigenous food systems.

Key projected outputs of this CoP include:

  • White paper on school meals and climate change, modelling the carbon footprint of different school meal diets. (Timeline: Ongoing-Oct 2023)
  • School feeding-food system global landscape analysis. Research support to conduct this analysis will be available from June 2023. (Timeline: June 2023-September 2023)
  • Proposed side event on Food System Transformation through School Feeding at the UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment in Rome (24-26 July 2023). A proposal has been submitted by PCD-Imperial College London with Rockefeller Foundation, SHN Research Consortium, FAO, WFP, AUDA and IDRC.
  • Country level analysis evaluating specific food system transformation impact of school feeding. This will include a of review current evidence on the suggested focus areas (Timeline: TBD)
  • Support national food system transformation pathways for eight countries in Africa by analysing, validating and applying CCHeFS (Catalyzing Change for Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems) project results and other relevant data. CCHeFS is a partnership co-funded by IDRC and the Rockefeller Foundation, with a current value of CAD23 million. Discussions with IDRC on supporting this work are ongoing.  (Timeline: July 2023- Dec 2024)

Publications

Forthcoming

Contact Us

Co-Chairs: 

Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network

This Community of Practice (CoP) is designed to provide a platform for early career scholars interested in pursuing a career related to school health and nutrition, to connect them with research training, mentorship, and other opportunities that will enable them to grow their research and communication skills. The CoP aims to provide the opportunity for early career scholars to support the ongoing research occurring within the Research Consortium and assist other CoPs with important advocacy efforts.

The Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network CoP is a voluntary network of early career scholars from around the world, with opportunities for all to participate regardless of time zones. The CoP will organize and host virtual events aligned to the varying career stages of its members. To that end, its objectives are the following:

  • Cultivate the talent of individuals who have an emerging interest in school health and nutrition by providing visibility, a professional development network, and insight into the varied careers within the school health and nutrition sphere.
  • Provide orientation opportunities for those who want to branch into different areas of school health and nutrition
  • Provide the opportunity to contribute to the research of the Consortium’s other Communities of Practice and feedback on the Consortium’s research strategy.
  • Provide a platform for early career scholars to collaborate on research, participate in seminars, and to be called upon by others for their expertise.
  • Facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas, experiences, and mentorship among early career scholars to better reflect diverse insights in research priorities. 
  • Foster vertical mentorship opportunities to connect early career scholars with more senior researchers. 

For the purposes of this CoP, we take a ‘stage’ rather than ‘age’ approach. We define early career scholars as students and graduates up to 10 years post-graduation from their highest degree.

Contact Us

Chairs: 

Coordinator: Ana Carolina Ferreira de Siqueira - carolinafesiqueira@gmail.com 

 

Beyond school meals
Beyond School Meals
Beyond School Meals Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition
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Schoolchildren in green uniforms have talk with PE teacher
Photo credit: LSHTM

School health and nutrition interventions are among the most ubiquitous social programmes worldwide, with one-in-two school children receiving a meal in school each day. However, school health and nutrition services go beyond school meals, with interventions defined as those which are routinely delivered through the school platform to improve the physical health, mental health, diet and nutritional status, and education outcomes of school-age children.

The latest evidence for some of the most common school health and nutrition interventions, summarized by experts from across the Research Consortium’s global network of academic and implementing partners, can be found below.

Discover the latest evidence on school health interventions 

Malaria Prevention and Treatment

Summary

Malaria undermines the health and education of school children. Education around malaria and bed net use are important components of health education and participatory methods can enhance update. Recent evidence shows malaria infection, related disease, and anaemia can be substantially reduced by the intermittent administration of a curative dose of antimalarial drugs (chemoprevention) in schools translating into improved education and decreased transmission.

Overview of global burden

School-age children suffer an underappreciated burden of malaria with 500 million school-age children at risk of disease.1 Malaria in school children manifests as both acute clinical illness and chronic infections leading to school absences, decreased cognitive function, and lower educational achievement2–4. Because infection is also associated with lower socio-economic status and lower caregiver education levels, malaria widens the education gap both within malaria-endemic areas and between malaria-endemic and non-endemic areas. Furthermore, school-age children are an important reservoir of human-to-mosquito infection perpetuating malaria transmission and challenging malaria elimination efforts.5,6 Universal malaria interventions, such as bed nets and access to prompt diagnosis and treatment, are assumed to cover this age group. However, school-age children are the group least likely to benefit from these interventions.4,5 Thus, interventions specifically targeting this age group are needed.

Decreasing the burden of malaria in school children offers the opportunity improve student health and education as well decrease parasite transmission to younger children who are at higher risk of severe disease and malaria-related mortality. Ultimately, improved learning and decreased malaria transmission both lead to increases in human capital and economic gains.

The solution

In all malaria endemic areas, the foundation of malaria control in school children is built upon effective malaria education as a component of health curricula and improving school children’s access and utilization of universal malaria control interventions (bed nets and prompt, effective diagnosis and treatment). Health clubs, drama groups and other peer-to-peer participatory methods have been utilized to increase malaria related knowledge attitudes and practices.7

In areas with moderate to high malaria transmission, intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in school children (IPTsc) is recommended to further decrease the burden of disease.8 IPTsc, which is the administration of a full treatment course of an antimalarial medicine at regular intervals to treat and prevent malaria infections in children who are old enough to attend school, has demonstrated efficacy to decrease clinical malaria, infection and anemia.9 More limited but increasing evidence suggests IPTsc also improves cognition10,11 and decreases transmission11–13.

Latest guidance

Associated active organisations

Corresponding author

Lauren Cohee, Reader in Paediatrics and Child Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Email: Lauren.Cohee@lstmed.ac.uk

References

View the full list of references

Menstrual Health

Summary

Menstrual health is an increasingly recognised public health issue1,2. There is growing consensus that multi-component interventions addressing physical and emotional aspects of menstrual health are needed to improve menstrual management3, and potentially also educational attainment, mental health problems, and quality of life among girls in school.

Overview of global burden

Menstrual health is defined as complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing in relation to the menstrual cycle4. Improving menstrual health is essential to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals for gender equality, good health, quality education, sustainable water and sanitation and related human rights5. Challenges to achieving good menstrual health among girls include inadequate puberty education and knowledge, lack of social support from teachers and peers, and insufficient access to appropriate products and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure3. These psychosocial and physical challenges to menstrual health impact on girls’ ability to succeed and thrive mentally and physically within the school environment and beyond6,7. Menstrual health may also impact on educational outcomes but few intervention studies have evaluated this8.

The solution

Studies are evaluating sustainable, low-cost menstrual health interventions for secondary schools in Uganda, The Gambia and Tanzania respectively. These are multicomponent interventions which include some or all of the following components: puberty education, drama skit, provision of a menstrual kits/training, pain management, WASH improvements, creation of Menstrual Health Action Groups, Mother’s clubs and community meetings. We have completed the evaluation of MEGAMBO which showed no changes in school attendance whilst menstruation but positive changes on menstrual stress, social support, and menstrual KAP among Gambian schoolgirls. Following formative research9 and piloting10-13,we are currently evaluating MENISCUS intervention through a cluster-randomised trial in 60 secondary schools in Uganda (primary outcomes are educational performance and mental health symptoms). Similarly, the  PASS-MHW project is evaluating the TWAWEZA intervention as a scalable comprehensive menstrual health intervention to be integrated into the government school system to improve menstrual health and psychosocial wellbeing for optimal school participation and performance of secondary school girls.14

Latest guidance

Associated active organisations

Youth ambassadors

Mandi Tembo (Mandikudza.Tembo@lshtm.ac.ukAbout | The Bleed Read

Mandi Tembo is a young Zimbabwean researcher with over 10 years working experience in sexual health research and advocacy. Currently, she is a Fogarty Fellow and PhD candidate at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her work looks at the integration of menstrual health in SRH provision and investigates menstrual product choice and MH knowledge, practices, and perceptions among young women in Zimbabwe. She has published in the areas of HIV, adolescent health, gender transformation, and MHH. Mandi is also the founder of The Bleed Read – a virtual platform that comprehensively addresses and highlights all things menstrual health related.

Vishna Shah (Vishna.shah@lshtm.ac.uk)

Jennifer Rubli (jennifer@femmeinternational.org)

Corresponding author

Helen Weiss, Professor of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Email: helen.weiss@lshtm.ac.uk

References

View the full list of references

Physical Activity 

Summary

Comprehensive approaches that combine built environment, education, and policy change. Two examples are School Wellness Integration Targeting Child Health (SWITCH®) and the Physical Activity 4 Everyone (PA4E1) Programs.

Overview of global burden

Physical inactivity is a global public health concern;1,2 lack of activity is associated with risk for chronic disease such as overweight/obesity, diabetes, and cancer.3 Many studies have been conducted to examine prevalence in youth; researchers agree that children do not meet the recommended 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, girls/females are less active than male counterparts, and physical activity behaviour declines with age.1 Unfortunately, children and youth in low-income situations are most at risk for physical inactivity due to issues of safety, cost, and issues with the built environment.4-6 Accordingly, schools provide an unmatched setting to reach children and provide safe opportunities for physical activity among other health behaviours. Building capacity in these systems is a worthwhile investment for facilitating behaviour change; these interventions are arguably more sustainable because of systemic change within school culture.

The solution

Both the SWITCH and PA4E1 interventions have been scaled up from prior successful efficacy trials,7-11 which were more costly, to implementation interventions whereby facilitation and training are provided to school professionals to implement a comprehensive program on their own.12-15 Both rely on a continuous cycle of training, implementation, and evaluation to facilitate continuous improvement over time. Both interventions comprise several key elements that make them successful: 1) education materials (e.g., curriculum); 2) teacher training through in-person/online professional development; 3) enacting school-level policies for activity promotion; 4) parent outreach; and 5) community engagement. As these interventions moved from efficacy to implementation and sustainability, the focus is predominantly on building and sustaining systems that promote physical activity.

Latest guidance

Associated active organisations

Corresponding author

Gabriella M. McLoughlin, Assistant Professor, College of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia

Email: gabriella.mcloughlin@temple.edu

References

View the full list of references

Surgery and the First 8,000 Days of Life

Summary

While the development from child to adult spans the first 8,000 days (or 21 years) of life, much of the focus in global child health has been on the first 1,000 days of life (between conception and the 2nd birthday) with a neglect of surgical conditions within this age group and the next 7,000 days. To achieve universal health coverage for children in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs), there is an urgent need to invest in surgical care within the first 8,000 days of life.

Overview of global burden

It is estimated that surgical conditions account for up to 30% of the global burden of disease, and this is more than the burden of malaria, tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) combined. In low- and middle-income countries where children and adolescents make up about 50% of the population, there is a disproportionately higher burden of children’s surgical disease. In children and adolescents, surgery is vital in the management of surgically correctable congenital anomalies, life threatening injuries and burns, infections, cancers and a host of other conditions.

Congenital anomalies are responsible for 25.3-38.8 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide and in 2019, ranked as the fifth leading cause of mortality in children under 5 years of age. In the same year, in children under 5 years of age, unintentional injuries accounted for 21.56 deaths per 100,000 and transport injuries 6.16 deaths per 100,000 while among children aged 5-14 years, unintentional injuries were responsible for 7.09 deaths per 100,000 and transport injuries 4.54 deaths per 100,000, ranking as the second and fourth leading cause of death within U5 and 5–14-year age groups respectively

In the management of cancers in children and adolescents, surgery plays key roles in diagnosis and definitive treatment. There are regional disparities in cancer incidence and survival with low development index countries having a 5-year survival as low as 20%. Children surgical infections and child and adolescent reproductive health problems requiring surgical intervention also contribute significantly to the burden of surgical diseases within the age group.

The increasing knowledge and awareness of the huge burden of surgical diseases in children and the role of surgery in improving the survival and quality of life in children have however not translated into inclusion of children’s surgery in public child health agenda, population-based strategies and interventions.

The solution

Incorporating education of teachers and students on common surgical conditions in school health programmes and immediate steps taken on early detection of such conditions will improve awareness of the conditions and availability of care, and ultimately significantly reduce delayed presentation with improved outcomes. Focused training on preventive measures against intentional and unintentional injuries is a strategy that can reduce the burden of injuries. Additionally, a checklist to screen for potential neglected congenital anomalies has also been shown to be effective. An important surgical infection in LMICs is typhoid ileitis leading to perforation. Education on hygienic practices and improving sanitary conditions with focus on waste disposal and handling and processing of food and drinks will help reduce the prevalence of this condition. These solutions need to be contextualized to the school environment ensuring that the children are active participants in the educational activities and not passive recipients.

Latest guidance

Associated active organisations

Corresponding author

Justina Seyi-Olajide, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria

Email: justinaseyiolajide@yahoo.com

Doruk Ozgediz. Professor of Surgery, Director, Center for Health Equity in Surgery and Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco; Chair, Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery

Email: doruk.ozgediz@ucsf.edu

References

View the full list of references

Vision and Eye Health

Summary

Poor vision in children has been associated with lower levels of educational attainment across a range of settings.1-6  Many conditions can cause poor vision in children, and most are preventable or treatable: up to 95% of children with poor vision need little more than a pair of glasses to improve their sight.7-13

Overview of global burden

Over 450 million children have poor vision globally5,14-16, with the highest prevalence in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Western Sub-Saharan Africa.  Children with vision loss in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are up to five times less likely to be in formal education,6 and poor vision has been shown to severely impact educational outcomes,1,2,17,18 contribute to low self-esteem3 and future socio-economic potential.4  While there are many conditions can cause poor vision in school-aged children, most are preventable or treatable.  Without vision screening children will not be able to gain access to the treatment or rehabilitation they need.  This will have a lasting impact on educational attainment and learning, affecting their life chances and quality of life.  School-based vision screenings provide a unique opportunity to provide comprehensive eye health services to more than 700 million children throughout the world,19 but eye health is typically omitted from school health interventions, particularly in LMICs.20

The solution

School eye health programmes are cost effective,21 and their benefits can be large. Simply screening children for poor vision and providing eyeglasses to those who need them can make a major difference.  The Lancet Commission5 reported spectacles to be one of the most effective health interventions for children.  Not only have they been found to reduce the chance of failing a class by 44% (p<0·01),18 they improving educational performance, with effect sizes at least as large as other health interventions.1,2,17,18,22  School-based vision screening will also allow the detection of other eye conditions requiring attention, and ensure that the children affected are referred promptly for treatment. Comprehensive school eye health programmes also include health education and promotion that can lead to positive social behaviour change.  These programmes also support inclusive education for children with irreversible vision impairment, ensuring that the potential of every child is unlocked, leaving no one behind.  School-based vision screening will amplify sector-wide investments to support quality education (SDG4), efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, and enabling work (SDGs 1, 2, and 8).23

Latest guidance

Associated active organisations

Further reading

Corresponding author

Graeme MacKenzie, Director, Riemann Ltd

Email: graeme.mackenzie@riemannltd.com

References

View the full list of references

Publications
Publications
Publications List
White Papers
Annual Research Statements
Annual Research Statement to the Global Summit of the School Meals Coalition 2023
Working draft. The Research Consortium welcomes feedback from partners directly at SHNConsortium@lshtm.ac.uk.
2023
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671285
Annual Research Statement to the Global Summit of the School Meals Coalition 2022
Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition
2022
National School Meals Case Studies
School Meals Case Study: Senegal (Working Paper) – FRENCH ONLY
Tounkara S, Kebe S, Hathie I, Tall L
2024
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04672263
School Meals Case Study: Ukraine (Working Paper)
Stepanyak O, Sivak D
2024
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04672125
School Meals Case Study: Ethiopia (Working Paper)
Solomon Tessema M
2023
https://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/4671611/
School Meals Case Study: Finland (Working Paper)
Kuusipalo H, Manninen M
2023
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671313
School Meals Case Study: Japan (Working Paper)
Health Education and Shokuiku Division, Elementary and Secondary; Consumer Affairs and Shokuiku (Food and Nutrition Education) Div
2023
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671122
School Meals Case Study: France (Working Paper)
Avallone S, Giner C, Nicklaus S, Darmon N.
Available in both English and French.
2023
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671091
School Meals Case Study: United States of America (Working Paper)
Toossi S, Cohen J, Clift J, Turner L, Gosliner W, Schwartz M.
2023
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671116
School Meals Case Study: Canada (Working Paper)
Ruetz AT et al.
2023
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671115
UK School Food Case Study - FOUR PAGER
Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, World Food Programme UK
2022
School Meals Case Study: England (Working Paper)
Bremner M, Defeyter G.
2022
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671121
School Meals Case Study: Northern Ireland (Working Paper)
Furey S, Woodside J.
2022
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671092
School Meals Case Study: Scotland (Working Paper)
Brennan M, Jones J, McKendrick J.
2022
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671130
School Meals Case Study: Wales (Working Paper)
Brophy S, Woolley K.
2022
https://doi.org/10.17037/PUBS.04671126
Publications
School Meals, Social Protection and Human Development: Revisiting Trends, Evidence, and Practices in South Asia and Beyond
Bundy DAP, Gentilini U, Schultz L, Bedasso B, Singh S, Okamura Y, Iyengar HTMM, Blakstad MM
2024
World Bank Group Working Paper
Universal free school meals: the future of school meals programmes?
Cohen J, Verguet S, Giyose B, Bundy DAP
2023
The Lancet, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01516-7
Policy Brief | Prioritizing debt relief conditional on investing in human capital
Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition
2023
Realising the potential of schools to improve adolescent nutrition
Baltag V, Sidaner E, Bundy DAP, Guthold R, Nwachukwu C, Engesveen K, Sharma D, Engelhardt K, Patton G.
2022
BMJ
Breaking down silos between health and education to improve adolescent wellbeing
Gray NJ, Desmond NA, Ganapathee DS, Beadle S, Bundy DAP, on behalf of the UN H6+ Adolescent Learning and Skills Writing Group
2022
BMJ
A coordinated response to the needs of the learner: How deworming and school meals together will contribute to the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
Karutu C, Schultz L, Waltz J, Campbell SJ, Kamara K, Yotebieng K, Gouvras A, Rollinson D, Bundy DAP.
2022
Frontiers in Tropical Diseases DOI: 10.3389/fitd.2022.998276
Ready to learn and thrive: school health and nutrition around the world; highlights
UNESCO; World Food Programme; United Nations Children's Fund
2022
School feeding programs for improving the physical and psychological health of school children experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage (Protocol)
Kristjansson E, Osman M, Dignam M, Labelle PR, Magwood O, Huerta Galicia A, Cooke-Hughes P, Wells GA, Krasevec J, Enns A, Nepton A, Janzen L, Shea B, Liberato SC, Garner JA, Welch V.
2022
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD014794. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD014794.
The Investment Case for School Health & Nutrition: Memo #4
Bundy DAP, Schultz L, Verguet S, Angrist N, Watkins K
2022
School Health and Nutrition Monitoring: What Practitioners and Policy Makers Can Learn from China
Schultz L, Bundy DAP
2022
The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific. 19(100368).
COVID-19: Missing More Than a Classroom. The impact of school closures on children’s nutrition
Borkowski A, Ortiz-Correa JS, Bundy DAP, Burbano C, Hayashi C, Lloyd-Evans E, Neitzel J and Reuge N.
2021
Innocenti Working Paper 2021-01. Florence: UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti
State of School Feeding Worldwide, 2020
UN World Food Programme
2020
The United Nations World Food Programme, Rome, 2020. 242 pp
The Role of Health in Education and Human Capital: why an integrated approach to school health could make a difference to the futures of schoolchildren in low income countries.
Cohee L, Halliday K, Gelli A, Mwenyango I, Lavadenz F, Burbano C, Drake L and Bundy DAP
2020
Journal of The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
Establishing Global School Feeding Program Targets: How Many Poor Children Globally Should Be Prioritized, and What Would Be the Cost of Implementation?
Drake L, Lazrak N, Fernandes M, Chu K, Singh S, Ryckembusch D, Nourozi S, Bundy DAP and Burbano C.
2020
Frontiers in Public Health, 8:530176.
Disease Control Priorities, Third Edition: Volume 8. Child and adolescent health and development.
Bundy DAP, De Silva N, Horton S, Jamison DT and Patton GC.
2018
Washington, DC, World Bank.
Re-Imagining School Feeding: A High-Return Investment in Human Capital and Local Economies.
Bundy DAP, de Silva N, Horton S, Jamison DT and Patton GC, eds.
2018
Washington, DC, World Bank.
School Feeding: a game changer.
Bundy DAP and Burbano C.
2018
Policy Options Politique, November 3 2018, pages 1-4. Montreal, Canada.
Investment in child and adolescent health and development: key messages from Disease Control Priorities, 3rd Edition.
Bundy DAP, de Silva N, Horton S, Patton GC, Schultz L, Jamison DT for the DCP3 Child and Adolescent Health Authors Group.
2017
The Lancet
Rethinking school feeding: Social safety nets, child development, and the education sector.
Bundy DAP, Burbano C, Grosh M, Gelli A, Jukes M, and Drake L.
2009
Washington, DC, World Bank.
The Evolution of School Health and Nutrition in the Education Sector in sub-Saharan Africa (2000-2015).
Bachir S, Fernandes M, Banham L, Bundy DAP, Drake LJ.
2017
In Frontiers in Public Health 01/2017; 4(2).
Global School Feeding Sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries.
Drake L, Woolnough A, Burbano C and Bundy DAP.
2016
London, UK, Partnership for Child Development, Imperial College.
Events
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Upcoming events

Nutrition Measurement: 'Nutrition and the Next 7,000 Days: The Importance of Quality Evidence'

Wednesday 31 July 2024, 1–2 pm (UK)

It is well understood that good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life is critical for an infant's physical and cognitive development. But what happens after that?

Emerging evidence shows that the "next 7,000 days" - from early childhood through to late adolescence - are of equal importance if a child is to reach their full potential. It is during this time that children are educated, go through puberty, and establish habits and behaviour patterns that can stay with them for life.

Join the Research Consortium's Nutrition Community of Practice to find out what we know so far about the role of nutrition during the next 7,000 days - and why it is critical to prioritize quality evidence to support children to flourish, both at school and beyond.

Register here

 

Please check back here for more events coming soon, or sign up to our newsletter to get updated.

The Research Consortium attends the SMC Global Summit, Paris, October 2024
Members of the Research Consortium attend the SMC Global Summit, Paris, October 2023

Past events 

2024

July 2024

Diet & Food Systems: Transforming Food Systems Through School Gardens, 5 July

Part of a series about planet-friendly approaches to school meals programming, this session explored how school gardens can provide a unique opportunity for children to pick up essential skills and practical knowledge around food systems, health, and the environment – equipping them to take their learning back to their homes and communities, and to make well-informed decisions throughout their life to drive transformation towards a healthier planet.

Watch the recording

May 2024

Good Examples: Spring Meeting, 16 May

What can we learn from national school feeding programs? In the spring meeting of our Good Examples Community of Practice, we heard presentations from six countries in Africa and Europe to see the diversity of school food organisation and best practices to encourage. This recording is available in English and French.

Watch the recording

 

Diet & Food Systems: Food system challenges for Home-Grown School Feeding programmes: Supply-side factors, 2 May

Co-hosted the Diet & Food Systems Community of Practice, Wasafiri, and the Ministry of General Education in Zambia, this webinar presented examples of food system challenges for Home-Grown School Feeding programmes (HGSFPs), focusing on upstream sub-systems’ of homegrown school feeding programmes as a pathway for sustainable food production, improved climate resilience, gender and inclusivity.

Watch the recording

April 2024

Analytics & Metrics: 'School Meals Impact: Gathering Evidence from Ethiopia and India', 24 April

Discover what the Research Consortium's Analytics & Metrics Community of Practice are learning about the impact of investing in the school meals programmes in Ethiopia and India.

Watch the recording

March 2024

Diet and Food Systems: 'Aquatic foods in school meals', 25 March

Co-hosted by the Research Consortium’s Diet & Food Systems Community of Practice, FAO and WorldFish, this webinar presents an overview of the important role that aquatic foods play in school feeding, as well as some of the international research projects and programmes demonstrating their effectiveness.

Watch the recording

January 2024

'School Meals & Food Systems: Building a Community of Practice', 24 January

In its first webinar of the year, the Diet & Food Systems Community of Practice shared an update on the white paper on 'School Meals and Food Systems: Rethinking the consequences for climate, environment, biodiversity and food sovereignty', detailing plans for how the Community of Practice will support countries to take the paper's insights forward and implement planet-friendly school meals programmes. A discussion was also had about key priorities for the Community of Practice moving forward. 

Watch the recording

2023

The Research Consortium at COP28, December 2023

'Nourishing the Planet, Sustaining Futures', hosted by the School Meals Coalition, 8 Dec

The School Meals Coalition’s flagship COP28 event saw Research Consortium Director Professor Donald Bundy discuss the white paper’s key insights on how governments can harness the power of school meals towards a healthier future for both people and planet. Kenya then became one of the first countries to announce its intention to take the insights forward, stating its commitment to providing nourishing, planet-friendly meals to 10 million children by 2030, an increase from the current 2.3 million children being reached.

Watch the recording

'School Meals and Food Systems: Rethinking the consequences for climate, environment, biodiversity, and food sovereignty', hosted by the Research Consortium at the RewirED Summit, 8 Dec

The Research Consortium hosted its own session at the Dubai Cares RewirED Summit, in which the white paper’s editorial team shared the background and approach to producing the paper, including a presentation from Professor Marco Springmann (EAT Lancet/LSHTM) on his analysis of the potential health and environmental impacts of planet-friendly school meals programmes across different income settings. Penholder Dr Silvia Pastorino (LSHTM) shared how governments can create both immediate and long-term change through the design of planet-friendly school meals programmes.

H.E. Conrad Omalikeh Sackey, Minister of Basic & Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone, then discussed how Sierra Leone plans to use the paper’s insights to develop a planet-friendly school feeding model moving forwards.

Watch the recording

'Little Fish, Big Impact', hosted by the Aquatic Blue Food Coalition, 10 Dec

In this session hosted by the Aquatic Blue Food Coalition, Professor Donald Bundy discussed the white paper’s insights on the potential of school food menus high in aquatic foods for driving sustainable food systems transformation globally.

Watch the recording

'Beans for Accelerating Change in Africa', hosted by the SDG2 Beans is How Campaign, 10 Dec

In the Research Consortium’s final session of the week, the white paper’s penholder Dr Silvia Pastorino joined a panel at the ‘Beans for Accelerating Change in Africa’ event hosted by the SDG2 Beans is How Campaign. Dr Pastorino discussed the evidence sumarized in the white paper about beans and pulses on school food menus.

Watch the recording

November 2023

'How to Write a Winning Grant Application' by the Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network, 14 Nov

With insights from across the Research Consortium’s global network of academics and scholars, this session by the Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network was an opportunity to hear from those on both sides of the grant award process for practical advice and useful insights on how to write a winning application. 

Watch the recording

October 2023

Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition Annual Showcase, virtual, 3-5 Oct

Between 3 and 5 October 2023, the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition held its inaugural Annual Showcase. With six virtual sessions across three days, the Showcase was an opportunity for the Consortium to share its key findings on the design, cost, implementation and impact of school meals from across all six of its global Communities of Practice throughout the last year. Taking place two weeks ahead of the annual School Meals Coalition Ministerial Meeting in Paris, the Annual Showcase provided an in-depth insight into everything we know about effective school meals programming to date. 

Watch the recordings

Global Forum for Adolescents by the Partnership for Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (PMNCH), 12 Oct

On 12 October, the Research Consortium will co-lead a session at the Global Forum for Adolescents (GFA) on the intersection between education and nutrition and the power of effective school-based nutrition programmes for adolescents to achieve their full potential. More information to follow. 

September 2023

5th Congress Hidden Hunger, Stuttgart, Germany, 4-6 September

Research Consortium director Professor Bundy holds a position on the Scientific Advisory Board of the 5th Annual Congress on Hidden Hunger hosted by the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.

The focus of the three-day congress is to promote dialogue between scientists, researchers, policy makers and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, the general public and the private sector, as well as other stakeholders and interested parties. Following his keynote speech at the Online Pre-Symposium in November, Professor Bundy will chair a session onsite at the congress in September 2023.

Launch of case study on France's national school meals programme, 4 September

As part of the work of the Research Consortium's "Good Examples" Community of Practice of documenting the school meals programmes of the member states of the School Meals Coalition, the CoP members are due to launch the French case study on 4th September.

France's experience in the field of school meal has been described in terms of implementation (coverage, type of menus, programme costs) and public policies. The authors of this case study will share with the audience the good practices, the innovative initiatives as well as the challenges to be met.

A question and answer session with the audience will follow. These discussions will serve as a prelude to the debates that will take place at the interministerial meetings organised by the School Meals Coalition from 18 to 19 October in Paris. A simultaneous translation from French into English will be available.

Register your place nowontent.

May 2023

LAUNCH: Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network, 4 May

On Thursday 4 May at 1pm BST / 8am EST, the Research Consortium is delighted to invite you to join us for the launch of our newest Community of Practice: the Early Career Researcher & Young Scientist Network. The Network aims to cultivate the talent of young people interested in entering the field of school health and nutrition research, by providing skills workshops, networking opportunities, and ways to contribute to the Research Consortium's research outputs. 

Join us on 4 May for an interactive launch event, where we are thrilled to be joined by two brilliant guests who both work in a different area of school health and nutrition. Our guests will share their personal career journeys, providing insights and advice on how to pursue a career in the field. The session will then conclude with an interactive session for the audience to share their own ideas on what they would like to see from the Network moving forwards and how we can best support them as they begin their own professional journey into school health and nutrition.

Watch the recording

June 2023

On Monday 19 June, the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition’s Good Examples Community of Practice (CoP) held its first Summer Meeting: an opportunity to reflect on progress to date in documenting examples of best practice in school meals programming from around the world.

Open to anyone interested in the documentation of school meals programmes globally, the meeting was a chance for those who have completed national case studies on their country’s school meals programme to share their insights on both the successes and challenges of the process, with the aim of providing guidance to countries seeking to develop their own case studies.

Watch the recording

 

2022

January 2022

Strengthening evidence on the benefits of school health and nutrition interventions to inform policy action and investment priorities, LSHTM Seminar organised by the School-Based Interventions Interest Group, 26th January

LSHTM staff and collaborators participated in this seminar introducing the School Meals Coalition, the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, and the work of the Consortium's Communities of Practice. Three key areas of research were explored during the seminar: (i) value-for-money of school meals; (ii) the effect of school food on learning-adjusted years of schooling; and (iii) the current evidence and impact of school health interventions.

Watch the recording

Public Meeting hosted by the Coalition for Health School Food, Canada, 27th January

Professor Bundy presented on behalf of the Research Consortium and provided an update on global evidence for school food programmes.

Watch the recording

February 2022

OECD Webinar: How to Make Better Policies for School Meals, 10th February

Following on from the Making Better Policies for Food Systems report the OECD’s Trade and Agriculture Directorate is now focusing on how to overcome evidence gaps in food systems to support policy makers around the world develop better policies for food systems. School meal programmes are included as part of a deep dive on food assistance programmes in OECD countries. As a knowledge partner to the UNFSS process the OECD has convened a webinar to discuss school meal programmes within OECD states. Professor Bundy presented on the launch of the School Meals Coalition, the Research Consortium, and the efforts of the Good Examples Community of Practice to document lessons learned from long-standing national school meal programs.

Watch the recording

Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery, US, 20th February

Professor Bundy presented to a global audience of surgeons on the opportunities for intervention within the first 8,000 days of life, with an emphasis on preventable disability among children and adolescents. Professor Bundy will also provide a forward look to the fourth edition of the Disease Control Priorities and the vision to include an emphasis on the life-course within this publication.

University of Oxford International Health & Tropical Medicine - Presentation to MSc students on multi-sectoral benefits of school meals programmes and the role of the School Meals Coalition, 23rd February

Professor Bundy presented to the University of Oxford International Health & Tropical Medicine MSc students on the multi-sector benefits of school meals programmes and the role of the School Meals Coalition with supporting governments to re-establish and scale school meal programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 2022

Biomarkers of Nutrition for Development – Knowledge Indicating Dietary Sufficiency (BOND-KIDS) workshops; 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th March

BOND-KIDS is a global partnership, led by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD/NIH), the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, USDA-Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA/FAS) and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), that aims to describe factors affecting health and nutrition in school-aged children and to guide assessment of nutrition programs. A series of public workshops took place throughout March to discuss the research of the four working groups. 

Watch all four event recordings below:

  • Workshop 1 – Nutrition and Biology – Friday 4 March
  • Workshop 2 – Environment – Friday 11 March
  • Workshop 3 – Assessment – Friday 18 March
  • Workshop 4 – Translation and Implementation – Friday 25 March

LSHTM Environmental Health Group Seminar, 9th March

LSHTM's Environmental Health Group hosted a seminar featuring three presentations on school-based WASH studies, followed by a presentation on the work of the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition. 

Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetics Society 2nd International Conference in Karachi, 10th-13th March

The Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition and the Nutrition Society are hosting a workshop focusing on investing in the next 8,000 days, as part of the Pakistan Nutrition and Dietetics Society 2nd International Conference in Karachi. 

Transitioning to a sustainable food system and delivering on the SDGs – The potential of school meals, EURGAGRI/CIRAD conference, 21st March

The European Agricultural Research Initiative (EURAGRI) and CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement) are co-hosting a conference bringing together European academics and stakeholders to discuss the benefits of school feeding programmes for children, as well as for societies and local economies. Professor Bundy will provide an update on the global picture of school feeding and present the roles of the School Meals Coalition and Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition in this context. 

Watch the recording

 

April 2022

Regional School Feeding Forum, Barranquilla, Colombia, 5th-7th April 

Representatives from the Research Consortium and School Meals Coalition took part in a high-level panel alongside ECLAC, IFPRI and INSP (the Mexican National Institute of public health) to discuss school feeding as a game changer for human capital development. 

Sustainable School Food: Global Challenges, Local Solutions, Barcelona, 28th April

Representatives from the Research Consortium presented at the virtual Sustainable School Food conference, hosted by Catalan NGO Fundesplai. The conference explored different countries and realities in order to see how they are reacting to shared challenges regarding school food programmes: minimising waste, reducing the consumption of animal proteins and increasing the consumption of fresh and local foods. 

Watch the recording

 

May 2022

Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS) meeting in Bergen, 2nd-4th May 2022

The Research Consortium team took part in the BCEPS meeting to discuss collaboration and ways forward to promote fair and efficient priority setting in national health systems.

Healthy and Climate-Friendly School Food: Coming soon to a place near you? World Food Summit side event, Bergen, 5th May 2022

Representatives from the Research Consortium spoke at this Danish World Food Summit side event about the different approaches to school feeding in the Nordic region and the transition to greater public engagement in school health and nutrition.

Watch the recording

National Consultation on School Meals Programme, Pakistan, 10th May 2022

Professor Bundy, Director of the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, delivered the keynote speech at the National Consultation on School Meals Programme, convened by the Government of Pakistan with support from WFP. He discussed the multi-benefits of school meals programmes for overall child health and nutrition, education, wellbeing, and economic development.

Measuring Success: What makes an effective school feeding programme? - Analytics & Metrics COP, 30th May 2022

The Research Consortium for School Health & Nutrition hosted its first seminar with its Analytics & Metrics Community of Practice (COP) on the effective measurement of school health and nutrition programmes globally.

Representatives from the Ethiopian and Malawi governments, the African Union, the World Food Programme, Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provided insights on the most meaningful evidence and metrics for measuring the impact of school meals around the world.

Watch the recording

 

June 2022

Good Food For All - The Bean Challenge, OmVed Gardens, London, 13th-14th June 2022

Representatives from the Research Consortium attended an advocacy event held by Good Food For All, an inititative of the SDG2 Advocacy Hub, on increasing the global consumption of beans as a way of addressing world hunger.

School Health & Nutrition: What does the evidence tell us? - Impact & Evidence COP, 23rd June 2022

The Research Consortium for School Health & Nutrition's Impact & Evidence Community of Practice (COP) shared recent progress on their Cochrane Collaboration Systematic Review of School Meals and School Health, including insights from across the Global South.

Watch the recording

Launch of FAO 'School Food Global Hub', 23rd June 2022

On 23 June 2022, Research Consortium Director Professor Bundy spoke at the launch of the 'School Food Global Hub', established by the FAO, Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany, and the School Meals Coalition.

The hub enables the sharing of evidence, best practices and lessons learned on school feeding, to enhance the global dialogue around the need and potential of improving the quality of school food and food education, therefore strengthening school programmes around the world.

Watch the recording

 

August 2022

CASE Europe Annual Conference, Glasgow, 30th August

Professor Bundy wdelivered the opening keynote speech at the CASE Europe Annual Conference, Europe's leading conference geared towards fundraising, advancement and alumni relations within higher education. Under the this year's theme of 'reimagine', Professor Bundy's session was titled: 'Caring for 1.5 billion lost children: How universities have helped reimagine a worldwide recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic'. 

September 2022

School Food Webinar, University of Copenhagen, 21st September

The University of Copenhagen's Department of Geosciences and Nature Management will be holding a school food webinar in September, attended by the Danish Food Minister, MR Rasmus Prehn. Professor Bundy will share the achievements of the Research Consortium to date. 

Early Career & Youth Network Focus Groups, 28th September

To help inform the development of a new academic Community of Pratice (COP), the Early Career & Youth Network, the Research Consortium will be holding two virtual focus groups on 28th September. The Early Career & Youth Network aims to elevate youth voices and cultivate talent within the field of school health and nutrition research, providing young people and early career researchers with access to a network of academics with shared interests, as well as the opportunity contribute to the Consortium’s overall research strategy and outputs.

The focus groups are open to any early career researcher or young person interested in the field of school health and nutrition research, who would like to help shape the COP's strategic priorities. For the purposes of this COP, early career researcher is defined as anyone who is up to 7 years post-graduate. Youth is defined as being between 15-24 years old. 

To cater to different time zone, we will be holding two focus groups at the following times on Thursay 28th September:

  • 12:00-13:00 BST
  • 16:00-17:00 BST

If you would like to take part in either focus group, please email shnconsortium@lshtm.ac.uk 

 

October 2022

Implementation and evaluation of comprehensive school-based health services: Two innovative programmes in Zimbabwe and Zambia | LSHTM School-Based Interventions Special Interest Group, 10th October

Date: 10 October 2022

Time: 1:00 - 2:00 pm BST

The LSHTM School-Based Interventions Special Interest Group – a collaboration between the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition and the MARCH Centre – invites you to a webinar on the implementation and evaluation of school-based health services, spotlighting two innovative programmes in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Open to anyone interested in the theme of child and adolescent health, this session will explore how comprehensive school-based health interventions can address some of the major health challenges faced by school-age children in low- and middle-income settings.

Representatives from Y-Check, a multi-partner initiative involving researchers from LSHTM based in Zimbabwe, will discuss their work into providing routine health and well-being check-ups for young people to improve the prevention, early identification and treatment of key health issues.  

This will be followed by a talk from representatives from Healthy Learners, an initiative based in Zambia focused on keeping children healthy through school-based interventions to optimize their ability to learn and ultimately reach their full potential.  

The session will conclude with a Q&A session, where we are delighted to be joined by Malalu Mulundika, Director of School Health and Nutrition for the Government of Zambia.

Watch the recording

 

School Meals Coalition Week, 10th-14th October 

The first ever School Meals Coalition (SMC) Week will take place from 10-14 October 2022, one year after the formation of the Coalition by more than 70 national governments at the UN Food Systems Summit 2021. It will celebrate the activities of the School Meals Coalition and its partners to date, coming at a time when school meals programmes are needed more than ever – with 153 million school children facing acute food insecurity according to new data from 82 countries released by WFP. The Research Consortium will hold two sessions to share the evidence it has generated so far on school health and nutrition programmes in the year since the Coalition's formation.

Research Consortium Update 1: What is the case for investment in school meals and school health?

This session is the first of two related updates from the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, describing research during the first year of the School Meals Coalition.  This first session focuses on making the investment case for national school health and nutrition programmes, and will start with a key-note from Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, on understanding the economics of school-based health interventions. This will be complemented by perspectives from across the Consortium’s global network-of-networks, including on how it is co-creating value-for-money research studies with SMC countries and engaging with innovative partners with exceptional global reach and national coverage, including the IAPB and the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA), to support the health and wellbeing of school-age children. The session will demonstrate how the Research Consortium’s network-building approach is allowing it to meet the scale of the challenges that countries face as they rebuild from COVID-19, particularly through alignment with the School Meals Coalition’s Sustainable Financing Initiative to develop innovative financial solutions.

Research Consortium Update 2: What are we learning from national programmes in school health and nutrition?

In the second of two updates from the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, this session will provide an overview of the evidence generated on school health and nutrition programmes in practice in the year since the Coalition’s formation. The Consortium will present progress to date on the ongoing Cochrane Systematic Review, the first since 2007 on the impact of school meals on the physical and psychological wellbeing of school children. It will then share insights on the use of the new education metric, Learning Adjusted Years of Schooling (LAYS), for deepening our understanding of how school-based health interventions can improve education outcomes, complemented by inputs from the across Consortium’s network on malaria and neglected tropical disease (NTD) interventions in schools. The Consortium will also share progress in developing case studies to document practice of national school meals programmes in all member countries, to launch the new Good Examples Community of Practice. Finally, the session will provide an insight into how the Consortium works closely with the School Meals Coalition’s new Data & Monitoring Initiative to evaluate the impact and efficiency of school health and nutrition programmes around the world.

Watch the recordings

School Meals Coalition Ministerial Meeting, Helsinki, 18th October

Following the School Meals Coalition Week, SMC will host its first ever Ministerial Meeting in Helsinki: a convening of the 12 ministers who sit on the SMC Taskforce to establish priorities and strategic direction of the Coalition. 

 

November 2022

The Superpowers of School Meals, Westminster, London, 8th November

During UK School Meals Week 2022, Professor Bundy will speak to MPs at the House of Parliament at the 'Superpowers of School Meals' event, hosted by the Food Foundation, School Food Matters, Bite Back 2030, Chefs in Schools and the NEU on behalf of the School Food Review Working Group network. 

Professor Bundy will present the current international context around school meals, providing an overview of the ongoing action towards universal school meals coverage by the 70+ countries of the School Meals Coalition and the lessons learned about policy and programming worldwide since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Deadline 2030: Unlocking Action on Sanitation (World Toilet Day), London, 15th November

Professor Bundy will contribute to a panel discussion at this World Toilet Day event hosted by Unilever, where they will ask the question: has sanitation had its moment?

“Impacts of COVID-19 on catering in all day-care centers and schools” Digital Symposium, University of Hohenheim, Germany, 16th November 

Professor Bundy will contribute to this online Symposium hosted by the organisers of the Hidden Hunger Congress, with a special focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications on school feeding. The Symposium comes ahead of the anticipated 5th Congress Hidden Hunger in March 2023.

UK Case Study Launch, Finnish Ambassador's Residence, London, 17th November

On 17th November, the Research Consortium's Good Examples Community of Practice, together with WFP UK, will formally launch its case studies into the current status of school meals in the four UK devolved nations, developed by interlocutors from the respective nations. Hosted by the Finnish Ambassador at his London residence, the event will also be an opportunity to launch the Finnish case study.

December 2022

Exploring causal mechansims in process evaluation of two whole school interventions, LSHTM School-Based Interventions Special Interest Group, 7th December

In our second seminar of the academic year, LSHTM's School-Based Interventions Special Interest Group - a collaboration between the Research Consortium and LSHTM's MARCH Centre - is pleased to share two examples of causal mechanisms in evaluating whole school interventions. 

More information to follow.

2021

May 2021 - Virtual launch of the Global School Health and Research Consortium 

Read the annotated agenda of the launch of the global Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition

Read the research priorities identified at the symposium of the global Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition

Full recordings of the Launch and Symposium:

Launch event

Symposium event

 

 

July 2021

Seventh International Conference on Poverty Reduction and Child Development, Beijing (Government of China and China Development Research Foundation) - 24th July

The conference established the factors that allowed China to declare the End of Absolute Poverty in December 2020. Professor Bundy spoke on a panel focused on child nutrition and food safety under the COVID-19 pandemic, and on the outcome of the 100 year “Compulsory Education Students Nutrition Programme”.

Food Systems Pre-Summit, Rome (UN Food agencies; planning for the UN Food Systems Summit, New York City, September) - 26th - 28th July

The UN World Food Programme convened governments, agencies, and academia to solidify commitments for the School Meals Coalition, which was launched at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021.

Global Education Summit, hybrid virtual/in-person conference - 28th - 29th July

The Global Partnership for Education hosted a virtual summit featuring 70 presentations as part of the Financing GPE 2021-2025 campaign.

August 2021

Annual Conference on Ensuring Food and Nutrition Security, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai: from the originators of the Green Revolution - 9th August

Professor Bundy presented the keynote on nutrition security policies that support women and children.

September 2021

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO Health Network Brunch): School as a platform for sexual and reproductive health and rights interventions - 2nd September

At the invitation of the FCDO, Professors Donald Bundy and Aoife Doyle presented on the role of health/gender policies to promote adolescent girls’ retention in secondary schools.

UN Food Systems Summit, New York City, 23rd September

The UN Secretary-General convened the 2021 Food Systems Summit with the aim of maximizing the co-benefits of a food systems approach across the entire 2030 Agenda and meeting the challenges of climate change. The School Meals Coalition was launched alongside the Summit.

October 2021

LACA, Birmingham, the annual meeting of the UK-wide professional body representing school nutrition services; 550 organisations including local authorities, schools, academies, institutions and the private sector - 13th October

Professor Bundy gave the keynote presentation on the global impact of school meal service interruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Food Day - 16th October

In celebration of World Food Day, the World Food Programme UK Office, together with the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition and the Chefs’ Manifesto, hosted an event to develop and strengthen the network of school feeding stakeholders in the UK.

All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food Meeting, House of Commons, London - 21st October

Professor Bundy provided an update on the structure, 10-year agenda and roles of the Global Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition.

Sowing the Seeds of a Movement, UK, 26th October

The World Food Programme, OmVed Gardens, and the Research Consortium on School Health and Nutrition hosted a diverse group of individuals working in the area of school food in the UK to exchange experiences and lessons learned.

November 2021

UK National School Meals Week 2021, 8th-12th November

OmVed Gardens, the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, and the World Food Programme, UK jointly authored an opinion piece in celebration of the UK National School Meals Week, entitled School Food: What Have we Learned from the UK’s 115 Years of Experience.

Lecture series on nutrition organised by World Food Programme LAC Region and Economic Policy Research Institute, Panama, 11th November

Professor Bundy lectured on school meals, their reach, and impact across Latin America as part of a professional development training course designed for the World Food Programme LAC Region staff.

Universal Provision of Free School Meals, Scotland, 17th November

Scotland has committed to extend universal provision of free school meals to all children in primary schools. The Scottish Poverty and Inequity Research Unit convened global school meal experts to reflect on early progress in delivering this in Scotland and we learn from wider work to extend school meal provision across the globe. Professor Bundy presented an overview of international work to on the universal provision of school meals. The full recording can be accessed here.

French School Feeding Network, France, 18th November

The French School Feeding Network invited researchers to present their research experience on school feeding to its network members, with a focus on “Ma cantine autrement” in Montpellier and "Cantine égalité" in Paris and its ramifications in Madagascar and India. Researchers discussed the success factors, barriers, and impacts of school catering projects.

Bilateral Meetings with UN Agencies, Italy, 22nd-26th November 

The Secretariat of the Consortium organised bilateral meetings with Rome-based UN agencies, including the World Food Programme, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, and with the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Coalition for Healthy School Food, Canada, 24th November

Professor Bundy joined a panel focused on big picture insights for implementing a school food programme in Canada. His intervention provided a global lens to school meal programs.

Nutrition During the Next 7,000 Days of Life: Middle Childhood and Adolescence, Side Event of the Nutrition for Growth Summit, Japan, 29th November 

This event brought together the government of Finland, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Research Consortium for School Health & Nutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to discuss how practitioners can address the nutritional needs of school-age children and adolescents.

December 2021

Seminar in Nutrition and Global Health. Hosted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA, 6th December

Professor Bundy presented how the covid pandemic has changed how countries care for the world’s schoolchildren, and how the pandemic has prompted a rethinking of the “next 7000 days” in a young person’s life. Watch his presentation here.

Nutrition for Growth Summit, Japan, 7th-8th December

The flagship N4G Summit was hosted by the Government of Japan in December 7-8, 2021. The event convened a cross-section of stakeholders to announce final financial and policy commitments and chart the path toward 2030 with concrete recommendations to the global community.

RewirED Summit, United Arab Emirates, 12th-14th December

RewirED – a global platform to rewire education for a prosperous and sustainable future –is organized by Dubai Cares, in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai and in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. On 14 December, Professor Bundy presented on the Research Consortium at a high-level investor’s roundtable and also moderated a session on financing approaches non-state actors utilize to finance school health and nutrition interventions. Watch the videos here and here.

10th Anniversary of the Nutrition Improvement Plan, hosted by the China Development Research Foundation, China, 18th December

The theme of this conference was Investing in Child Nutrition for Healthy Future with a focus on the achievement of China’s Nutrition Improvement Plan for Rural Students in Compulsory Education. Professor Bundy presented as part of the Child Nutrition and Rural Vitalisation plenary.

 

 

 

 

News & Opinions

Latest news, opinions, and updates from across the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition.

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"Good Examples" Community of Practice hosts school meals case study workshop in Benin, January 2024

Research teams from across West Africa gather in Benin for a workshop on producing case studies of their national school meals programme
Research teams gather at the "Good Examples" Community of Practice school meals case study writing workshop in Benin © Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition

Between 23 and 26 January 2024, the Research Consortium’s Good Examples Community of Practice (CoP) held a writing workshop in Cotonou, Benin, for countries in the region seeking to developing a case study on their national school meals programme.

With funding from the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, and under the leadership of L’institut Agro Montpellier, the workshop saw participants from L’institut Agro and from Benin, Togo, and Senegal share their diverse experiences in managing school meals programmes in their respective territories.

The event brought together a variety of stakeholders, including university professors, representatives from research centers, national agencies for school food management, and development associations. This diversity facilitated the exchange of complementary and constructive experiences.

After two days’ work dedicated to each case study, the third day focused on reflecting on potential research partnerships arising from this collective exchange. The results of the case studies will be published during the year 2024.

Further regional case study writing workshops in Europe, Asia, and Latin America are due to take place throughout the year. Stay informed by signing up to the Research Consortium's newsletter here.

Find out more about the Good Examples Community of Practice here.


The Research Consortium presents white paper on school meals as a vehicle for food systems transformation at COP28, Dubai, Dec 2023

Group of school meals policymakers, researchers, donors, and programme experts gather onstage at COP28.
© School Meals Coalition

 

In December 2023, the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition attended the COP28 Climate Conference in Dubai, UAE, where it presented the key insights from its evidence-based white paper on School Meals and Food Systems: Rethinking the consequences for climate, environment, biodiversity, and food sovereignty.

Led by a research team based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with 167 experts from 84 organisations worldwide, the white paper uses original mathematical modelling analyses and more than 40 case studies to estimate the potential impact of school meals policy changes on both health and the environment across different income settings.

Currently, food systems are responsible for a third of all human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: meaning the very food systems that keep us alive are also contributing to environmental catastrophe. School meals programmes, as one of the largest subsections of the global public food system, with more than 400 million children receiving a meal at school each day, could hold enormous potential to drive transformation towards healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food systems globally. This is because, despite their vast global coverage, school meals programmes are overwhelmingly financed and managed at the national level, meaning the policy levers lie in the hands of governments – giving them a unique opportunity to effect significant change quickly and at scale.

The white paper brings together the existing evidence from around the world on how strategic policy changes to national school meals programmes could have significant positive consequences for both people and the planet, finding that the greatest effects come from changes in the following four priority areas: menu design, energy use, waste management, and food education. It also explores the potential of these short-term policy changes to drive longer-term shifts in agricultural and procurement practices towards more ecologically sustainable farming systems.

These policy insights were presented by members of the white paper’s coordination team for discussion at four events across the course of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai in December 2023. At the School Meals Coalition’s flagship session ‘Nourishing the Planet, Sustaining Futures’ – the first dedicated school meals session in COP history – Kenya became the first country to announce its intention to take the insights forward, declaring its commitment to provide nourishing, planet-friendly meals to 10 million children by 2030: an increase from the current 2.3 million children being reached. This was soon followed by commitments from Sierra Leone and Rwanda, who announced their own plans to implement planet-friendly policies when scaling up their national school meals programmes.

Catch up on all four of the Research Consortium’s COP28 sessions here.