The 2022 Forum Report is here!

live illustration showing the many different areas facets of Benin's National Integrated School Meal Program

It has been a few months since school meal programs last gathered together to discuss the current state and future of school feeding. We have done our best to capture the insights, highlights, and more from the 2022 Global Child Nutrition Forum held in Cotonou, Benin in this Forum Report. GCNF wishes our most sincere thanks to Catholic Relief Services for providing feedback and graphic design for the report. 

Available in English and French, we hope readers who were not able to join us in Cotonou will be able to take away just as much information as those who participated in person. Opening and closing ceremonies, plenary sessions, breakout workshops, and school visits are accompanied by photos from the event and links to learn more. Head to the Global Child Nutrition Forum page to start reading!

In the meantime, please enjoy this excerpt from the report on the plenary session presented by the Government of Benin on the country’s National Integrated School Meal Program.

2022 Global Child Nutrition Forum report cover featuring forum logo, photos from the event, and many colored blocks

The National Integrated School Meal Program of Benin

In order to correct disparities across geography, gender, and other barriers to access, the Government of the Republic of Benin founded the National Integrated School Feeding Program, implemented through the Ministry of Preschool and Primary Education. Although other organizations operated programs in Benin in the past and the program is carried out in partnership with other organizations, the government is the primary funder of its national school feeding program. 


Benin identified school feeding as an essential measure in combating the inequalities listed above in addition to fighting hunger and poverty. The school feeding program in Benin has three main principles – effective management and preparation of meals, purchasing local, and complementary activities. A comprehensive set of data collection measures follows the implementation of the program at various levels and in a variety of indicators. Access to drinkable water, access to rural areas during the rainy season, and low participation from some communities in school canteen activities are some of the challenges faced by Benin in carrying out the program. Benin participated in the pilot of the Global Survey of School Meal Programs and has continued to contribute its data to the global database.



What we learned
  • The Government of Benin has set an ambitious goal of achieving a 100% coverage rate in their 7,500 schools by 2023
  • Innovations from universities and research institutions have become more prevalent throughout the program
  • Supplementary activities include deworming, following the nutritional status of students, medical care for students and cooks, and the promotion of sanitation and school hygiene
  • There is a strong emphasis on bettering the productivity of small-scale farmers and the quality of their products to address the challenges currently faced in those areas.
live illustration showing the many different areas facets of Benin's National Integrated School Meal Program

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!