Lessons Learned for Emergency Feeding During Modifications to 11 School Feeding Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Food and Nutrition Bulletin
COVID-19; food insecurity; Latin America; nutrition policy; pandemic; school feeding programs
Background: School feeding programs (SFPs) can play a crucial role in the emergency food and nutrition response, but there is a dearth of information on how SFPs operate during emergencies. Design and Methods: A rapid comparative assessment of 11 SFPs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from (1) systematic document search and (2) surveys with key informants (n = 23) about barriers/facilitators to modifications were systematically analyzed using a multiple case study approach. Results: During the pandemic, all SFPs continued (although continuation plans varied from a few days in Chile to >1 month in Puerto Rico) via food kits, food vouchers, and/or grab n’ go meals. The SFP implementation was highly dependent on the programs’ autonomy and financial support, which impacted their logistics to acquire and distribute foods during the pandemic. The types of foods offered in some SFPs suggest that established nutritional guidelines were not always followed. Key informants expressed concerns about the deterioration of the nutritional quality of foods offered during the pandemic and lack of community engagement that impeded distribution to the neediest. Conclusions: Results underscore the urgency for clear implementation guidance on how to modify SFP during emergencies. Public health implications include (1) allocation of autonomous resources to an intersectoral working group to safeguard nutritional benefits during emergencies, (2) strengthening efforts of SFP community engagement before and during emergencies, and (3) establishing guidelines of the types of foods that can be distributed to meet the nutritional needs of beneficiaries during emergencies.
Colón-Ramos, Uriyoán; Monge-Rojas, Rafael; Weil, Jael Goldsmith; Olivares G, Florencia; Zavala, Rebecca; Grilo, Mariana Fagundes; Parra, Diana C.; and Duran, Ana Clara, "Lessons Learned for Emergency Feeding During Modifications to 11 School Feeding Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean During the COVID-19 Pandemic" (2022). GW Authored Works. Paper 13.