Lessons Learned for Emergency Feeding During Modifications to 11 School Feeding Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Author: Colón-Ramos, U., Monge-Rojas, R., Weil, J. G., Olivares G, F., Zavala, R., Grilo, M. F., & Duran, A. C.

Background: School feeding programs (SFPs) can play a crucial role in the emergency food and nutrition response, but there is a dearth of information on how SFPs operate during emergencies. Design and Methods: A rapid comparative assessment of 11 SFPs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from (1) systematic document search and (2) surveys with key informants (n = 23) about barriers/facilitators to modifications were systematically analyzed using a multiple case study approach. Results: During the pandemic, all SFPs continued (although continuation plans varied from a few days in Chile to > 1 month in Puerto Rico) via food kits, food vouchers, and/or grab n’ go meals. The SFP implementation was highly dependent on the programs’ autonomy and financial support, which impacted their logistics to acquire and distribute foods during the pandemic. The types of foods offered in some SFPs suggest that established nutritional guidelines were not always followed. Key informants expressed concerns about the deterioration of the nutritional quality of foods offered during the pandemic and lack of community engagement that impeded distribution to the neediest.
Conclusions: Results underscore the urgency for clear implementation guidance on how to modify SFP during emergencies. Public health implications include (1) allocation of autonomous resources to an intersectoral working group to safeguard nutritional benefits during emergencies, (2) strengthening efforts of SFP community engagement before and during emergencies, and (3) establishing guidelines of the types of foods that can be distributed to meet the nutritional needs of beneficiaries during emergencies.

Author: Colón-Ramos, U., Monge-Rojas, R., Weil, J. G., Olivares G, F., Zavala, R., Grilo, M. F., & Duran, A. C.
Year of Publication: 2022
Journal Title: Food and Nutrition Bulletin
Keywords: School feeding programs | Latin America | COVID-19 | pandemic | nutrition policy | food insecurity
Corresponding Author: Uriyoán Colón-Ramos, Department of Global Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health George Washington University, 950 New Hampshire Avenue #410, Washington, DC 20037, USA. Email: uriyoan@gwu.edu
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/03795721211062371