|Food, Nutrition and Agriculture 16 - Nutrition education for the public (1996)|
|Le service alimentaire des écoles maternelles à Campinas, Brésil|
In Brazil, group feeding programmes for children have long been in place, but evaluations of this type of activity have been partial and incomplete. The main objective of this work is therefore to assess both the effectiveness and drawbacks of the feeding programme in nursery schools in Campinas, a city in the state of Sao Paulo.
Six nursery schools, with a total attendance of 688 half-day pupils and 411 full-day pupils, were selected at random. For five days the food and ingredients of the two meals served (breakfast and lunch) were all weighed before and after cooking and just after they were served to the children, Any food left on the plates was also carefully weighed, These amounts of food were all carefully converted to energy and nutrients using a food composition table. The meals were to cover roughly 50 percent of the recommended energy and protein intake for the children. The effectiveness of the feeding programme was judged by the extent to which protein and calorie requirements for all the children were met.
Background data were also gathered in the selected schools, from the Secretariat of Education (responsible for the feeding programme), from the municipal warehouse and from the municipal transport system. These data (qualitative or non-qualitative) were then analysed.
The project is semi-autonomous, meaning that the mayors office of Campinas allocates the necessary funds to the school and the school purchases the food. The annual cost of the food assistance project is the equivalent of US$47.30 per child.
The conclusions on the effectiveness of the school feeding programme are mixed. The food offered seems to cover the protein requirements of the schoolchildren (average effectiveness 112 ± 42 percent) but not their energy requirements (average effectiveness 67 ± 19 percent).
Based on this analysis, a number of suppositions can be made on the implementation of school feeding programmes for Brazilian schoolchildren. Foremost, the allocation of the budget to the schools and the purchase of the food by the school itself in accordance with local eating habits are positive factors which help to make these projects more effective.
Certain aspects, however, could be improved to make the project more effective. Post-cooking losses, i.e. the amount of food prepared but not served to the children, would need to be reduced. The caloric density of the meals served should also be increased, and more effective controls designed and implemented. There is also a need to reinforce such activities as supervision, staff training, food quality control, evaluation, community participation, use of school vegetable gardens, nutrition education and integration with the health care programme.