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!