Finland and France are co-chairs of the School Meals Coalition Global Summit beginning in Paris on Wednesday, said the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a press release on Tuesday.
Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio will attend the summit, which will be inaugurated by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The summit will be attended by 63 member countries and 56 partners, including UN agencies, civil society organisations and representatives of local governments and the academic world.
The summit aims to strengthen the global commitment of countries and partners and to promote school meals around the world.
The Coalition encourages countries to expand and invest in their school meal programmes. Low-income countries, in particular, need support in building their programmes.
The School Meals Coalition is a global initiative launched in 2021. It is co-chaired by Finland and France and has already 90 member countries and more than one hundred partners.
The Coalition’s goal is for all schoolchildren to have access to healthy and nutritious school meals by 2030. In addition, Tavio acts as the Global Champion for School Meals.
Across the world, 153 million children and young people lack access to healthy and nutritious meals every day. School meal programmes play a key role in strengthening food security. They also promote health, educational outcomes, gender equality and the continuity of education and training.
“Free school meals was once a revolutionary innovation in Finland. Finns have enjoyed free school meals already for 80 years, and the meals are one element of Finland’s world-renowned quality education. School meal programmes support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a pleasure and an honour to serve as the Global Champion for School Meals and to promote school meals internationally,” said Tavio.
According to the latest figures, 418 million children have now access to school meals, compared to 388 million pre-pandemic.