World Cup fever: Brazil

World Cup fever has gripped most of the planet (and all of my family) so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and take the opportunity to look at school feeding in some of the contending countries. I’ll visit a couple of countries between now and mid-July. After all, even soccer stars like Portugal’s Ronaldo and Brazil’s Kaká used to be schoolchildren—and there are lots of stars in the making relying on school lunch to make them healthy and strong.

Kaká in a (low tech) WFP TV ad talking about hunger with young soccer hopefuls

Kaká, in fact, knows a bit about school feeding as a World Food Program Hunger Ambassador. He even helped launch their Fill the Cup campaign a few years back, encouraging people to contribute to emergency food assistance for countries in crisis.

It makes sense since Kaká hails from a country known as a leader in the worldwide food security movement. Brazil’s president, Lula was first elected in 2003 on a Zero Hunger platform. As part of a national anti-hunger program, all public school children get a free hot lunch every day at school. For many kids in Brazil, it is their main meal of the day.

School lunch providers are also required to source the food locally and to plan menus to accommodate seasonal production schedules, so there are always fresh fruit and vegetables on the plate in the school canteen.

A typical meal might include rice and beans, meat, egg or fish and veggies like kale or potato, plus fruit or a fresh fruit juice like passionfruit or pineapple.

Image from Professor Cecilia Rocha's talk "Healthy Food for All: The Alternative Food System in Belo Horizonte, Brazil"

It’s not cheap to feed millions of kids school a free and nutritious meal every day, but in Brazil access to healthy food is considered a human right.  A school feeding official in Brazil explained it best in this WFP document: “School lunch is not an expense, it’s an investment.”

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