Healthy and well-nourished school children learn better. Ensuring that girls and boys stay in school and are healthy and ready to learn allows them to fully achieve their potential as adults. Very simply: sick or undernourished children cannot attend school and hungry children cannot learn.
School feeding programmes can help get children into school and help them stay there. They provide children with safe and nutritious food, encouraging dietary diversity and healthy eating habits. When purchased locally from smallholder farmers ("homegrown school feeding"), programmes maximise benefits for students and local communities, by integrating smallholder farmers into food supply chains and generating profit for local economies.
An initial pilot allowed WFP to validate two big benefits of the tool. First, the tool is able to largely improve and adapt food baskets for school feeding programmes. This includes substantial cost savings without reducing quality and the flexibility to adapt to local challenges and eating habits. Second, the task of creating menus becomes much easier with SMP PLUS.
SMP PLUS software was able to calculate new food baskets, bringing large improvements in a very short period of time. The first ever SMP PLUS-designed menu was implemented in the region of Punakha: it had the same nutrient content as the previous school menu, but was 20 percent cheaper and, simultaneously, increased by 70 percent the amount of food bought from smallholder farmers, all while respecting local eating habits and culture. The only training the first two users required (a WFP programme officer and a government nutritionist) was a two-hour in-person session and a few remote follow-up calls.