A call to readjust the Israeli school feeding program

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the food and nutrition security status of thousands of children in Israel. This commentary argues that policymakers should urgently readjust the Israeli school feeding program based on experts’ advice. Children should have the right to select food items, grow the items, prepare the meals, and clean and care for the waste together. They should eat as a community in suitable school dining rooms. Access to the school feeding program should also be ensured during emergencies, school closures, isolation and quarantine, treatment, and rehabilitation of children. The food provided through the program should be integrated into the food baskets of their families, aimed at improving their households’ food and nutrition security. It is important to activate a universal school feeding program that does not differentiate, separate, and stigmatize children, their households, their communities, and their schools. The United States National School Lunch Program is briefly reviewed, highlighting the importance of the program's routine monitoring, evaluation, and improvement. Engaging the children in planning the meals and in the production, preparedness, provision, and waste management processes are key to improving their involvement, health literacy and promotion, and their families’ resilience. Implementing a holistic Food System Approach, including school gardening and “Farm to School,” is suggested. It is recommended to urgently formulate a modern, universal, and comprehensive Israeli Food and Nutrition Security Plan, with a dedicated chapter for the upgraded School Feeding Programe with a section on its implementation in emergency preparedness, response, and Resilience. It should be anchored in the Food Systems framework and the One Health Approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Child health
  • Emergencies
  • Food security
  • One Health
  • School feeding program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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