208547 Food-for-education programs: Can they help achieve the MDGs?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA , Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Harold Alderman, MS, PhD , The World Bank Group, Washington, DC
Jed Friedman, PhD , The World Bank Group, Washington, DC
The Millennium Development Goals call for increased primary school enrollment, particularly for girls. Food-for-education (FFE) programs have been widely promoted as an effective way to improve enrollment and attendance in school by decreasing the costs of schooling for resource-constrained parents. However, the impact of FFE programs has not been rigorously tested. In this study we will report results from a randomized intervention of three different FFE formats: On-site feeding (OSF), in which school children receive a mid-morning snack at school; take-home rations (THR), in which students are given food rations to take home several times during the school year contingent on attendance; and a combination of OSF and THR. We will use data from a two-year pre- and post-intervention study in northern Lao PDR, a remote area with very low primary school enrollment rates. Fieldwork for the post-intervention data collection was completed in December 2008. We will exploit the longitudinal data and the random assignment of the three interventions (plus a control group) at the district level to quantify the impact of FFE on school enrollment, school attendance, school achievement, and cognitive function measures. We will also determine if the FFE interventions influenced children's nutritional status, as measured by height, weight, and hemoglobin. We hypothesize that the school feeding programs may have had differential effects on girls vs. boys, and on younger vs. older children. We will compare these results to two similar randomized interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to draw broader conclusions about the potential of FFE programs to contribute to the achievement of the MDGs. Given the considerable resources that international and bilateral aid agencies such as the World Food Programme and local governments allocate to FFE programs worldwide, these results have significant policy relevance.

Learning Objectives:
Identify the nutritional, attendance, and school achievement outcomes attributable to a randomized food-for-education intervention in Lao PDR.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PHD prepared public health research and director of this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.