Skip to content

About GCNF

The Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) stimulates investment in nutritious school meals, unlocking political will and resources necessary to implement and sustain national programs. GCNF helps governments around the world build national school meal programs that are locally-sourced, develop markets for smallholder farmers, create opportunities for female entrepreneurs, and are ultimately independent from international aid. To do this, we:

  • Build capacity of governments to implement national school meal programs
  • Share best practices and tools to support the creation, expansion, and improvement of national school meal programs
  • Engage civil society and businesses to strengthen supply chains and increase political will for school meal programs
  • Coordinate with others in the field – nonprofits, schools, and researchers – to raise awareness and ensure strong support and resourcing for school meal programs
Our major programs include:
  • The Global Child Nutrition Forum, a learning exchange and technical assistance conference held annually to support countries in the development and implementation of sustainable school feeding programs
  • The Global Survey of School Meal Programs © which aims to strengthen the work of the global school meal network by developing a comprehensive description of all the core aspects of large-scale school meal programs around the world. GCNF conducted most recent survey from July 2021 through March 2022
  • The Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award, given to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the worldwide dream of ending childhood hunger

GCNF works together with government leaders and a diverse network of partners around the world to deliver sustainable and nutritious school meal programs that give every child the opportunity to learn and thrive.


GCNF envisions a future where school meals sustainably nourish all children and help them, their families, communities, and nations to thrive.


Mutual Respect and Partnerships
We are objective brokers of partnerships by enabling cooperation, ensuring inclusive participation, aligning common goals, and establishing mutual accountability. We believe mutual respect creates environments in which sustainable partnerships can be built.

Trust and Integrity
We build trust through our commitment to transparency and accountability to our partners. We promote openness and fairness in the relationships cultivated among our network of governments, civil society, and private sector partners.

Peer Learning and Sharing
We create opportunities for inclusive peer learning and knowledge sharing to inspire connectivity and collaboration among a large and diverse network. We believe that providing a platform for diverse views and amplifying underrepresented voices improves learning, promotes cooperation, and leads to innovation. Knowledge is reciprocal – transfers of expertise, knowledge, and insights go both ways.

Equity and Inclusion
We believe in the inherent dignity and value of all people. We believe in everyone’s right to education, as a tool of empowerment and means for social and economic inclusion. We promote equity regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity, nationality, class, caste, language, religion, belief, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, health, or other status. We condemn all forms of discrimination, oppression, and exploitation. We understand that listening and valuing different points of view allows for better learning and problem solving.

School Meal Programs Work

School meal programs address the three pillars of economic development in one program: education, health and nutrition, and agriculture. Few other programs of scale link these important sectors or have comparable intergenerational benefits.

School meal programs have a positive return on investment. Broadly speaking, findings suggest that investing in nutritious school meal programs today will have benefits in the form of billions of dollars in healthcare cost savings tomorrow. Excluding returns on agriculture, ROI on school meal programs in low-income countries range from $3 to $9 per every dollar spent.

Evidence shows that well-planned and implemented school meal programs work because they:

Contribute to Education:

  • Improve enrollment, attendance, and retention
  • Improve cognitive functioning and learning
  • Reduce behavior problems and depression cause by hunger and household food insecurity

Contribute to good health and nutrition for the children and for subsequent generations. They can be designed to:

  • Address caloric and specific nutritional needs
  • Prevent or mitigate obesity
  • Limit the negative effects of stunting
  • Leverage nutrition and health education

Alleviate household poverty and food insecurity:

  • Offset family food costs
  • Ensure school children receive at least one meal a day

Support agriculture, private sector, community, and economic development:

  • Ensure a predictable, long-term demand for farmers’ produce
  • Develop demand for private sector engagement (food processors, transporters, etc.)
  • Create jobs, particularly for relatively low-skilled women and youth (as cooks, food handlers, etc.)

School meal programs are present in almost every country, functioning as one of the largest safety nets in the world. As of 2013, 368 million children - 1 in 5 - receive a daily meal at school. For many children in vulnerable situations, a school meal is the only nutritious meal they will receive throughout the day.