By Oyewumi Oyedokun
Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on School Feeding


During a lunch break at Maple Leaf Transitional Learning Centre, Wassa in Abuja. The school meals programme in Nigeria is reaching learning sites for internally displaced children.

During a lunch break at Maple Leaf Transitional Learning Centre, Wassa in Abuja. The school meals programme in Nigeria is reaching learning sites for internally displaced children. © Government of Nigeria

The Government of Nigeria is expanding partnerships to boost its investment in the national Homegrown School Feeding programme in a drive aimed at doubling the provision of school meals from 10 million to 20 million children in 2025.


This year, a USD 100 million budget has been allocated to provide school meals to 10 million children while a public-private partnership initiative was recently launched to stimulate school meals financing in preparation for the scale up next year.


Despite budgetary constraints facing many developing countries, the Government of Nigeria is one of the countries forging ahead with a clear understanding of the multiple socio-economic returns of its investment in homegrown school feeding. The commitment to increase coverage speaks of the government’s strong commitment to improve the wellbeing and future of Nigeria’s young ones.


President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s “Eight Point” agenda, and the Renewed Hope Action Plan also recognise homegrown school feeding as a powerful tool that contributes to ending hunger and addressing malnutrition among children. Over the years, Nigeria has seen how the homegrown school feeding programme has generated economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, local businesses, and women-led enterprises. In response, the government has strengthened its legal and policy frameworks to create an even more enabling environment that can promote continued improvements to the school meals programme.


“Although the programme is currently financed by the federal government, the drive to massively scale up has necessitated building partnerships with the civil society organisations and the local private sector. As we look into the future, working with others will help us to address the funding gap and ensure the sustainability of the programme,” says Dr. Yetunde Adeniji, senior special assistant to the President on school feeding.


A good example demonstrating that partnerships can indeed provide solutions is the Sustainable School Feeding Initiative launched by the Maple Leaf Foundation to support vulnerable children that are internally displaced. “Initiatives such as this can complement our efforts in areas where more hands and additional support is needed. With more partners on board, this can be rolled out in other areas facing similar challenges,” Dr. Adeniji said.


Importantly, government’s decision to scale up school feeding comes after years of working closely with the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) at Imperial College London – a partner of the School Meals Coalition’s Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition. Working with the PCD will further strengthen efforts to build a homegrown school feeding model backed by evidence to promote transparency, equity, diet quality, sustainability, and growing the local economy.


Dr. Yetunde Adenji

Dr. Yetunde Adenji had a lighter moment with the children at Maple Leaf Transitional Learning Centre during the recent launch of the
Sustainable School Feeding Initiative to support children that are internally displaced.

Dr. Lesley Drake, the Executive Director at PCD says the Nigerian Government’s pledge to double the number of children reached reflects true leadership and commitment to invest in the wellbeing and future of Nigeria’s children and the nation’s economic prospects. “As part of the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition, PCD stands ready to continue our long-standing support to the government by undertaking a detailed “value-for-money” analysis that is so critical for both sustainability and future investment,” says Dr. Drake.


In its move to expand school meals coverage, Nigeria is targeting many problem areas. The strategy is to introduce meals in new schools, increase coverage in schools currently not providing meals to all children and ensure all vulnerable groups of children receive nutritious meals. Tackling micronutrient deficiencies, particularly among children in internally displaced learning sites is a major priority area. The government and partners are also prioritising key micronutrient supporting efforts to combat malnutrition, which is at 62 percent of children aged 6–59 months and 41 percent of adolescent girls aged 10–14 years.


The homegrown school feeding nutrition guidelines recently endorsed by multi sectorial partners advocate for at least 33 percent of every child’s nutritional needs to be met. Other policies and frameworks such as the National Social Protection Policy and the Food System Transformation Pathway for Nigeria further strengthens the scaling up, enhancing nutritional value of meals and effective implementation of programmes, as well as domestic ownership of the programme.