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Cardiff expert to lead UN food programme

25 Gorffennaf 2007

Cardiff University has been commissioned to design a major new home-grown school feeding programme for the World Food Programme, the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger.

Professor Kevin Morgan, from the School of City and Regional Planning will lead a team devising a programme that aims to combat malnutrition, improve educational standards and encourage local production in developing countries by providing free school meals for pupils.

Previous work by Professor Morgan has shown that food procurement can be harnessed to provide benefits for local food producers as well as school-age children who are the end-consumers. The new study will assess how the provision of school meals can contribute to social and economic progress in developing countries and address the associated effects of hunger such as poverty, illiteracy and ill health.

The project directly contributes to the delivery of the eight Millennium Development Goals set out by the United Nations which include halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, to halving the proportion of hungry people in the world, all by the target date of 2015.

Professor Morgan said: "My colleagues and I in the School of City and Regional Planning are deeply honoured to have been invited to work with the World Food Programme on the home-grown school feeding programme. The central aim of the new programme is to deliver a double dividend of more nutritious food for children and more local markets for local producers. Sustainable school feeding programmes can make a major contribution to eradicating extreme hunger, promoting basic education and empowering women, the most important of the Millennium Development Goals".

The research will tackle two interrelated issues; increasing children’s access to nutritional food through school meals and exploring how the provision of school meals can help stimulate the development of local food chains based on regional agricultural production.

Experts in the area of home grown school feeding programmes will be interviewed for the project and a detailed analysis of existing initiatives will take place focusing on the areas of governance, procurement and funding: "We know that South Africa, Ghana, India, Thailand, Brazil, Kenya and the UK have all implemented large school feeding programmes with varying degrees of success" said Professor Morgan. "By focusing on successful and not so successful experiences we aim to draw out best practices that can be useful when School Feeding Programmes are implemented in other country contexts."

The World Food Programme is the food aid arm of the United Nations. The research by Cardiff University will advance the Programmes goals to help developing countries build a sustainable future.