Announcing Host Country Open Call for 2023 Forum

a photo of the conference room of the 20th annual Global Child Nutrition Forum

The Global Child Nutrition Forum is a conference focused on school feeding programs. The four-day event features government exchanges, plenary sessions, technical workshops, and a day trip to see the local school meal programs in action.

We’re looking for our next host country for the 2023 edition of the Global Child Nutrition Forum. Help us bring together school meal program leaders from across the globe, and share your school meal program with the world.

Host Country Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Global Child Nutrition Forum? The Global Child Nutrition Forum is a conference focused on school feeding programs. The four-day event features government exchanges, plenary sessions, technical workshops, and a day trip to see the local school meal programs in action. 

Who is the audience? Each year we expect 300-400 participants from all over the world. Government representatives make up the core of the Forum audience. Normally, 35 to 60 countries send formal government delegations. The Forum attracts additional attendance from development partners, UN agencies, academia, and the private sector. 

Where will the 2023 Global Child Nutrition Forum be held? The Forum is held in a different country each year. GCNF is currently seeking a host country for 2023. In the past, the Forum has been hosted in Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia, and the United States.  

When will the 2023 Global Child Nutrition Forum be held? GCNF and the host country will work together to select the exact timing. GCNF anticipates the Forum will be held in October, November, or December of 2023. 

What are the benefits to the host country? The Global Child Nutrition Forum offers an opportunity for a country to co-host a well-known international event and showcase their school feeding program(s). It brings tourist resources to the region and garners international attention.

What is GCNF looking for in a host country? Safety first. The host country must be safe for guests from all areas of the world to gather. Second, we seek a host country that with a compelling, strong school feeding program y of global recognition. Alternatively, countries that have a new commitment to roll out or expand their program are also attractive Forum hosts. The host country must have an easily accessible international airport, safe in-country transportation, and a modern and large enough venue space to accommodate 300 to 400 guests. The visa process must be easy and accessible for all guests. 

What is the role of the host government? The role of the host government is negotiated each year. Primary responsibilities include ensuring the safety and security of the event, ensuring easy visa processing, presenting a session on the country’s school feeding program, and organizing site visits to schools. The cost of the Forum is shared between GCNF, the host government, and complementary partners. While exact amounts are to be negotiated, the host government should be prepared to make substantial cash or in-kind contributions. The government will be asked to assign an English-speaking focal point to work with GCNF for the planning and organization of the Forum.

How do we express our interest in hosting the Forum?  Please express your initial interest in hosting the Forum as soon as possible by emailing Additional information will be provided. 

What if I am not from the government, but I am involved with school feeding and want my country to host the Forum? The government is a key host of the Forum. We encourage interested parties to reach out to their government to gain their support for hosting the Forum. Interest in hosting the Forum can come from a partner, but it must accompany support from the government. 

What if I represent an organization who wants to partner with GCNF on the Forum? Fantastic! Please reach out to with your interest.


Think Your Country Would Be the Perfect Fit?

Please express your initial interest in hosting the Forum as soon as possible by emailing  Additional information will be provided.


The 23rd Annual Global Child Nutrition Forum

two canoes on Benin's coastline. Forum Logo and text reads 23rd annual global child nutrition forum, Cotonou, Benin

The 23rd Annual Global Child Nutrition Forum brought together 244 school feeding leaders from around the world for discussion, exchange, and peer-to-peer support essential to the future of school meal programs. Returning to an in-person format for the first time since 2019, Forum participants investigated school meal program linkages between health, nutrition, and agriculture, and dove deep into the effects of compounding crises. They recognized the importance of program sustainability and resilience for the future in the 2022 Forum Communiqué, a call to action produced by the participants. The 2022 Forum Communiqué is available on GCNF’s website in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.

The Forum was a joint collaboration of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF), the government of the Republic of Benin, Catholic Relief Services, and the UN World Food Programme. Chosen as the host government for the event for its impressive National Integrated School Feeding Program and President Talon’s national budget commitment to school feeding, GCNF hopes other countries will learn from the Republic of Benin’s successful experience. As a member state of the School Meals Coalition, Benin’s hosting of the Forum attests to the country’s commitment to excellence in school feeding. GNCF expresses gratitude to the government and people of Benin for serving as this year’s host and looks forward to continuing their invaluable relationship for many years to come

The Forum kicked off with an Opening Ceremony featuring messages from leaders of GCNF, the government of the Republic of Benin, Catholic Relief Services, and the UN World Food Programme. Throughout the week, participants took part in plenary sessions on exciting topics like “The Triple Burden of Malnutrition” and “Sustainability and Resilience in School Meal Programs”. The Forum offered 9 workshops for participants to gather in small groups and learn more about country-specific experiences. This year, workshop topics covered climate-smart agricultural techniques, engaging private-sector partners, the role of gender in program implementation, and more. 

Every year, visits to local schools delight and inspire Forum participants and this year was no exception. Participants split up to visit 6 different local schools, being greeted by students, teachers, and local community members to tour kitchens, pantries, school gardens, canteens, and classrooms. As a result of these visits, paired with an engaging debrief and plenaries throughout the week, participants left the 2022 Forum with new knowledge and professional connections to support their school feeding work. A celebration of the 20th anniversary of the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program preceded the Closing Ceremony which officially closed the Forum. Participants then enjoyed a cultural animation from the government of Benin, including dinner, cultural performances, and dancing at the Palais des Congrès. GCNF celebrates a successful 23rd Annual Global Child Nutrition Forum and many more to come!

PRESS RELEASE: 2022 School Meal Programs Around the World

Over $35.3 billion were spent on School Meal Programs last year 

A new report from the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) released today presents a comprehensive view of School Meal Programs Around the World. The report shows that across 139 countries, 330.3 million children received food through school meal programs with an aggregate investment of at least $35.3 billion. Governments are investing their resources in school meal programs: The survey shows that an average of 70% of funding comes from governments.

“The report helps us all to see clearly that while school feeding is extensive, it is highly varied in its form,” said Margaret Grosh, retired Senior Advisor of Social Protection and Jobs at the World Bank, who reviewed the report.

“GCNF is eager to collaborate with governments, researchers and other stakeholders to ensure that the data is put to good use,” said GCNF Executive Director Arlene Mitchell. “The survey data can be used to direct efforts to the areas of greatest need, to support investments based on deeper knowledge, to better advocate for resources and to show progress over time.”

The report demonstrates how these programs are growing and resilient, even in low-income countries and in the face of multiple emergencies, including COVID-19. They responded actively and often with great agility to the COVID-19 crisis, even as pandemic challenges disrupted their work. About 45 countries reported an increase in the number of children fed by at least 5%. 

The survey also sheds light on a few positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the disruption caused by the pandemic brought greater attention to, and appreciation for, the role of school meal programs. While these programs had always filled an important role—nourishing children in schools and facilitating learning—the interruption of these services highlighted to many people their critical importance. Second, the public health crisis brings greater attention to school hygiene, with school systems providing additional handwashing stations, maintaining greater cleanliness on school property and monitoring and enforcing food hygiene in school kitchens. 

Rates of government support for school feeding, coverage, and successful integration of school meal programs with agricultural development were highest in Latin America and the Caribbean where school meal programs are estimated to reach 88% of primary school-age children in the region. 

The programs create opportunities for farmers, the private sector and job seekers. School cooks are mostly women, especially in lower-income settings. At the same time, it is relatively less common for cooks to receive payment in low-income settings, with just half of the programs in these settings indicating that a majority of their cooks are somehow remunerated.

The 2022 edition of School Meal Programs Around the World presents the results of GCNF’s second Global Survey of School Meal Programs©, conducted from July 2021 through March 2022. Government officials responded to a detailed questionnaire about school meal programs in their countries operating in 2020-2021. Government officials and NGOs from over 30 countries will gather in Benin for the 23rd Annual Global Child Nutrition Forum from 24-27 October to determine how this data can help direct efforts to the areas of greatest need, to support investments based on deeper knowledge, and to better advocate for resources.

The GCNF surveys were funded by multiple donors, most notably the United States Department of Agriculture, the world’s largest donor for international school meal programs through its McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. 

About: GCNF is a non-profit (501c3) organization based in Seattle, Washington that works together with government leaders and a diverse network of partners around the world to ensure sustainable and nutritious school meal programs that give every child the opportunity to learn and thrive.  



Contact information:

Tori Spivey

Communications Officer


PRESS RELEASE: Data Collection for Second Global Survey of School Meal Programs has Begun

GCNF conducts second round Global Survey of School Meal Programs, capturing world-wide impact of COVID-19 on school meals and child nutrition

SEATTLE, WA – School meal programs — in which students are provided with snacks, meals, or other foods in or through schools — are common worldwide. While country-supported school meals are almost universally embraced globally, standardized information about these programs has not been collected and published regularly, until now. The Global Child Nutrition Foundation’s (GCNF) inaugural Global Survey of School Meal Programs © established a unique global database of standardized information on school meal programs, covering all related sectors and activities.

GCNF is now collecting a second round of data for the Global Survey of School Meal Programs ©, capturing the impact of the pandemic for at least one full school year. As schools closed due to the pandemic, from Honduras to the United States to Senegal to Cambodia, many families’ access to school feeding programs that have been important sources of food and nutrition for their children and essential support for households was lost or limited. GCNF’s survey will help to measure and tell the story of the pandemic’s toll on the school food system, while also documenting the resilience and creativity of school meal programs in the face of such dramatic challenges. 

“We know that the pandemic has had far-reaching and devastating effects on children, their nutrition, and their education,” said GCNF Executive Director Arlene Mitchell. “This survey will not only provide us with more specific information regarding the impact on school-age children and the programs that support their nutrition, it should also give us insights into which countries were better prepared to deal with this public health crisis and what would assist in planning for future emergencies of this type. We will use the survey results to support peer-to-peer sharing and learning amongst policy makers.”

This 2021 survey goes beyond simply counting how many meals are served or how many children are fed. Through the survey, GCNF will gather updated information regarding:

  • The scope of school feeding in each country in the most recently completed school year Government financing of, and involvement in, school feeding
  • Nutrition-, education-, and gender-related aspects of school feeding
  • Job creation, and agricultural and private sector engagement
  • Related health and sanitation topics
  • The impact of emergencies, including the COVID-19 Pandemic

“No one’s done this before and I couldn’t, I kind of couldn’t believe it.” said Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN and Chair of the UN Food Systems Summit’s Action Track 1, on the extensive data collected in the Global Survey of School Meal Programs. “No one has collected this data before in a systematic manner, given that these programs have been around so long, they have so much potential to do good. And so many countries have them. It seemed amazing to me that there isn’t a database on them.”

GCNF Global Survey Team members have begun reaching out to country governments around the world to begin completing questionnaires. The Global Survey of School Meal Programs Questionnaire may be completed online or in PDF format (with email submission). It is available in PDF format in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The Survey Team will serve as virtual guides, to answer questions, and otherwise work with government-appointed Focal Points to complete the survey. Learn more about the Global Survey team.

The 2019 Global Survey drew responses from 103 countries representing 78% of the world’s population. Of these, 85 countries had at least one large-scale school feeding program and provided data for their most recently completed school year. The remaining 18 countries reported that they had no relevant program. Complete survey results and additional information can be found at It is GCNF’s intention to update the Global Survey periodically (e.g., every two to three years) in order to track changes and identify trends in school feeding programs over time.

The Global Child Nutrition Foundation brings together a committed community of governments, civil society, and the private sector to ensure that hunger is not a barrier to learning for any child. Together we advocate for school feeding programs as a powerful investment in every child’s human capital; share best practices and research among our peers; and provide support through forging valuable partnerships and connecting resources to meet the needs of our network members.



Contact Information:
Global Child Nutrition Foundation
Rebecca Steelman


Heidi Kessler
Senior Program & Operations Officer

Now Hiring: Finance and Administration Coordinator

Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) is now hiring: Finance and Administration position (title commensurate with experience)

Classification: 1.0 FTE (40 hours/week)

Ideal Start Date: January 3, 2022

Please submit resume and cover letter to:


Subject: Finance and Administration position

Interviews will be held on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible. Three professional references will be requested from final candidates. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

GCNF is seeking an experienced person to handle its financial and administrative matters to start as soon as possible. The title and salary offered for the position will be based on the successful applicant’s experience as matched to GCNF needs and finances.

Overview: The primary responsibility of this position is to implement financial and administrative actions on behalf of GCNF. The incumbent is expected to maintain and improve ongoing financial and administrative processes, procedures, and policies as needed. This person should be efficient at handling multiple priorities, work efficiently, take initiative, be organized, and be a team player with a great attitude. This position also plays a significant role in the planning and execution of GCNF events, especially the Global Child Nutrition Forums.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Facilitate the financial and administrative processes to support GCNF’s accounts payable and accounts receivable processes including preparing check/wire requests, invoicing, processing travel/expense vouchers, depositing checks, coordinating payroll and benefits, facilitating online merchant services, and documentation of these processes to the standards as outlined by the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States.
  • Perform routine bookkeeping in Quickbooks or liaise with a contracted bookkeeper to ensure proper bookkeeping of all GCNF’s financial transactions including the monthly reconciliation of all bank and credit accounts, all income and expense transactions, all in-kind transactions, and all liability and equity of the organization to standards as prescribed by GAAP.
  • Prepare all monthly financial reports for review by the Executive Director and the Treasurer of the Board.
  • Manage credit card and bank accounts.
  • Work with relevant staff, consultants, and funding entities to develop and monitor project budgets.
  • Assist Executive Director and Finance Committee in development and tracking of annual budget.
  • Liaise with the Auditor to conduct a standard audit of GCNF’s annual financial statements.
  • Prepare and submit all necessary registration documents to guarantee GCNF’s legal registration at the Federal, State, and local levels including maintaining GCNF’s registered agent service and any required state charitable solicitation registrations.
  • Maintain relevant GCNF insurance policies.
  • Research and coordinate costs and solutions for the purchase of equipment, supplies, travel, software, subscriptions, and other items needed to support GCNF’s operations and programs.
  • Support the financial and administrative aspects of GCNF’s fundraising and communications campaigns and activities.
  • Ensure that all donations and fundraising activities are documented in compliance with GCNF’s status as a 501(c)3 organization.
  • Manage outgoing and incoming correspondence and mail related to administrative and financial matters.
  • Coordinate and maintain records of staff and consultant contracts.
  • Coordinate financial, administrative, and registration components of international events, including Global Child Nutrition Forums.
  • Provide other financial support as requested.
  • Provide ad hoc administrative support.

Required Qualifications:

  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting or related field (or experience and proven success in relevant previous roles)
  • Knowledge of accounting principles, fund accounting, GAAP, nonprofit accounting, laws, tax codes, government regulations, and best practices
  • Skilled in QuickBooks, spreadsheets (Excel or other), Google Workspace, Zoom, and Microsoft Office
  • Respect for and ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds and styles
  • Commitment to confidentiality in managing sensitive information
  • Exceptional attention to detail, skilled in research and analysis
  • Ability to manage competing priorities and self-direct to meet strict deadlines
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills in English– ability to communicate complex financial information clearly and concisely
  • Ability to work effectively both in a virtual environment and in person
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and as a member of a team and both in a lead role and as a subordinate

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Previous finance and accounting experience in a nonprofit environment
  • Experience managing subordinate employees and contractors
  • Experience in a cross-cultural environment
  • International experience
  • Working level language skills in one or more of the following languages in addition to English (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)

Workplace Location and Work from Home:

GCNF’s official physical work location is in Seattle, WA. Per GCNF policy and under pre-approved conditions, GCNF staff may work remotely. However, some in-person work, and some domestic and international travel, at least on a periodic basis and as pandemic conditions allow, is expected for GCNF employees.

Salary and Benefits:

Salary range: Commensurate with experience as relevant to GCNF needs and finances.

We provide medical benefits, generous paid time off, work from home stipends (during approved remote work periods), and a 401K match.

About GCNF:

GCNF is a non-governmental, non-profit, (501c3) organization based in the United States that works with governments, businesses, and civil society organizations to support school meal programs that help children and communities thrive. GCNF provides training, technical assistance, peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities to help governments build national school meal programs that are nutritious, locally-sourced, and ultimately independent from international aid.

Founded in 2006, GCNF is registered to operate in both Washington and Virginia. GCNF’s annual budgets over the past five years have ranged from roughly $500,000 to $1 million. Its small staff (averaging about four employees per year) is supplemented by the services of international and domestic consultants, volunteers, interns, contractors, and—on occasion—by members of its Executive Board.

While we are a very small organization, we have an excellent reputation globally, an extensive international network, and a mighty ambition.

For more information: or

PRESS RELEASE: GCNF’s Report School Meal Programs Around the World finds school feeding programs drive inclusive economic growth

SEATTLE, WA (April 14, 2021) — School meal programs extend benefits far beyond their critical education and nutritional value for vulnerable children, creating jobs and contributing to agricultural and economic growth and social stability for whole communities says a new Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) report, School Meal Programs Around the World. While many countries are investing in school meal programs, coverage is weakest precisely where the need is the greatest.

“The value of school feeding as an investment in human capital is essential to inclusive economic growth and the well-being of children and families,” Mitchell says. “Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that we advocate for school feeding programs as a path to recovery. School meals support children in returning to school. They directly contribute to children’s health, nutrition, and education, expand employment opportunities for women and youth and strengthen agriculture. The intergenerational benefits are enormous.”

The report School Meal Programs Around the World, is based on the Global Survey of School Meal Programs © conducted in 2019 by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, creating the first comprehensive global database of school meal programs. 

Of the 103 countries that responded, 85 countries reported that they have one or more large-scale school meal programs that serve an estimated 297.3 million children around the world. Almost three quarters of countries stated their programs also serve as a social safety net, providing food for poor or vulnerable children that offsets household costs for their families. As schools closed due to the pandemic, from Honduras to the United States to Senegal, families had limited access to school feeding programs that have been important sources of food and nutrition for their children and essential support to households. 

The survey also reveals that while financing remains a challenge in many countries, it is clear that programs are most successful when funding is earmarked in national budgets. “Governments across the world must invest in grey matter infrastructure; the infrastructure that helps brains grow from nutrition; the infrastructure that builds the healthy and productive workforce of the future,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and 2017 recipient of both GCNF’s Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award and the World Food Prize.

The survey also found that nearly all programs purchase some or all food domestically creating significant institutional demand to support the livelihoods of local producers, encourage production of healthier foods for children, and build resilience into our supply chains. Harnessing this buying power could have a powerful and positive effect on both national and global food systems.

“The survey enhances our understanding of the wide range of benefits and value of school feeding as an economic and social development tool,” explains Executive Director Arlene Mitchell. “We expect the impact on food systems to be great as we uncover multiple opportunities to strengthen program engagement with agriculture and to use local purchasing, especially from small scale farmers as a tool for economic development and resilience.”

Countries also recognize that school feeding programs meaningfully contribute to women’s equitable economic empowerment when emphasizing formal employment and fair wages. Most countries reported that 75% or more of school food preparers are women, but 31% of programs reported that very few or no cooks receive payment for their work.

The impact of school meals can be even greater for adolescent girls—well-nourished adolescent girls achieve better learning outcomes, delay marriage and early pregnancy, and have the opportunity to advance their lives. Yet the survey found that countries where early marriage and pregnancy rates are the highest have the lowest levels of secondary school feeding programs.

“I will not rest until every child in Africa has at least two meals a day and can go to school, because then maybe they will have a chance of following in my footsteps—have a right to control their destiny.” said Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Special Envoy for 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit

The Global Child Nutrition Foundation works with governments, civil society, and the private sector to ensure that hunger is not a barrier to learning for any child. Together we advocate for school feeding programs as a powerful investment in every child’s human capital; share best practices and research among our peers; and provide support through forging valuable partnerships and connecting resources to meet the needs of our network members.

GCNF’s goal is to conduct its survey every two to three years to provide a systematically updated view of school feeding programs around the world. The upcoming 2021 Global Survey of School Meal Programs © aims to capture the impact of the pandemic for at least one full school year, utilizing the 2019 survey as a baseline.

“We have so much more information than before and we can see the landscape of school feeding from multiple angles,” said Mitchell. “But most topics require more in-depth examination and, above all, action. COVID-19 has heightened the urgency for action.”


Contact Information:

Global Child Nutrition Foundation

Rebecca Steelman

Communications Officer



Jennifer Shin

Senior Program Officer