Expanding the national school meals programme in Ukraine

Case Studies & Research
WHO. Regional Office for Europe
19 p.

For over a century, countries have implemented school meals programmes to support pupils’ well-being, promote school attendance and academic performance, and provide a strong return on investment for their economies and future human capital. Providing school meals at no cost to all pupils within a school, region or country – through universal free school meals policies – magnifies these benefits to a significant degree. During times of war and post-recovery efforts, this focus on child and adolescent well-being is especially critical, as many young people experience psychological trauma, exacerbated by unstable living conditions and inconsistent access to food. The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact, and now is therefore a particularly important time for Ukraine to expand and further strengthen its national school meals programme, with the goal of implementing a comprehensive universal free school meals policy. External investments and resources should be prioritized to support this initiative and develop a sustainable infrastructure, which will contribute to the short- and long-term health and well-being of Ukraine’s youth as the nation transitions to a period of future peace.