Who we are
The Pacific School Food Network was formed by a small group of Pacific school feeding advocates at the Global Child Nutrition Forum in 2019.
We aspire to connect stakeholders from across food systems, including primary producers, educators and nutrition and health experts, to support the advocacy, development and establishment of activities that result in the provision of food and nutrition education activities in Pacific Island Countries.
There is an urgent need for increased action to support healthier school food environments in this region. Rates of overweight and obesity in the Pacific Islands are some of the highest seen globally. In ten Pacific Islands countries, over 50% of children and adolescents are overweight (1). In some of these countries rates of obesity are as high as 33% in this group (2).
Two recent studies investigating the current state and capacity for school nutrition education and school food programmes across 14 Pacific Island countries, found that while there was recognition for need, and a high level of motivation to improve school food environments, limited programmes are in place, and these are often restricted by resourcing, knowledge capacity, communication, geographical location and local food environments (3,4). In 2019, the Global Childhood Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) survey reported that only four countries have an established school feeding programme, or similar, in the Pacific region. This is relatively low when compared to the estimated 300 million children in 117 countries who receive meals at school.
While school food activities, including school feeding programmes are relatively new in this region, there is momentum, with New Zealand the most recent country in the region to fund a $200million NZD Free School Lunch programme in 2020.
We recognise that supporting school food activities requires a multisectoral approach, which is represented in the network. We continue to liaise with the GCNF to advocate for and support the development of evidence-based, culturally suitable and partner-led school food and nutrition programmes in the Pacific, guided by World Food Program, FAO and individual country national standards and guidelines.
Our vision is to improve the health of Pacific Island children, their families and their communities through healthier school food and nutrition environments.
The Pacific School Food Network aims to provide:
opportunities for collaboration, networking, and capacity building for those interested in school food activities
a forum for technical input into school food provision and nutrition education activities
a forum for policy guidance and leadership for healthier school food environments
an avenue for sharing information and resources
advocacy for research and greater evidence to inform school food activities
resource mobilisation for research to inform school food activities and implementation to improve Pacific school food environments.
Founders of the Pacific School Food Network at the Global Child Nutrition Forum 2019
(from left): Ms Brynn Demei (Palau), Ms Ann Hayman (FAO, New Zealand), Mrs Clarissa McKay (Eat Right Be Bright, New Zealand),
Dr Sarah Burkhart (USC, Australia) and Mr Tebwaatoki Taawetia (Kiribati).
WHO Nutrition Landscape Information System (NLiS) Country Profile 2020 https://apps.who.int/nutrition/landscape/report.aspx
Global Nutrition Report Country Nutrition Profiles https://globalnutritionreport.org/resources/nutrition-profiles/
FAO. 2019. School Nutrition Education Programmes Scoping Study and Capacity Needs Assessment – Final Report. Apia. 130 pp. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO. Available from: http://www.fao.org/3/ca2935en/ca2935en.pdf.
FAO/Burkhart, S. J., Underhill, S. J. R., Jones, B., Horsey, B., Craven, D. School food programmes scoping review and capacity needs assessment. Final Report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome (In draft).