School feeding programs are advocated as powerful adjuncts to alleviate hunger in developing countries such as Haiti. Perceived benefits include increased cognitive learning, improved attendance and increased community involvement.
Agencies such as the World Food Programme currently provide a lunch meal to over 1 million students in Haiti but future success or expansion of these projects may be limited by soaring food prices. Chronic malnutrition in Haiti’s children is a direct negative result of poor agricultural productivity and food insecurity.
A recent report evaluates the concept of linking school feeding programs to local agricultural development.
“Home-grown school feeding focuses in particular on linking school feeding programmes with local small-scale farmer production by creating an ongoing market for small landholders (“smallholders”).”
“Small-scale farmers are poor because of inadequate access to assets such as land, water and human capital. In addition, their production practices are characterized by limited use of productivity-enhancing technologies and practices – such as hybrid seeds and fertilizers. They are also poor because even when they do adopt improved production methods, they are often unable to easily sell their produce in markets, which, for smallholders, are thin, volatile and costly.”
Efforts to improve nutrition in Haiti’s school children must address food insecurity due to Haiti’s failed agriculture system. Increasing world food prices will not allow the current path of imported or donated food to support the vulnerable in Haiti.