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19 Jan, 2024

Guaranteeing a healthy nutrition for all children in the European Union

On World Children’s Day 2023, the Spanish presidency organised an event in San Sebastián aimed at strengthening the commitment to providing school meals, building upon the foundation laid by the European Child Guarantee. COFACE Families Europe was represented at this conference by Spanish COFACE Board member, Amaia Echevarría, Director of UNAF Spain.  

Attended by Member States, representatives of the European Institutions, civil society, academics and policy experts, the conference aimed to define the role of school meals programmes in a broader network of policies to fight child poverty and social exclusion, and to discuss evidence of the impact these programmes have.  

The conference also aimed to strengthen the commitment of Member States to effectively guarantee all children and adolescents the right to at least one healthy and nutritious meal a day, building on what is established in the Council Recommendation on the European Child Guarantee. 

As a result of the conference, a Declaration was adopted which includes recommendations and commitments including the following: 

  • The need to provide healthy nutrition for all children, but especially the youngest, who are in a more vulnerable situation given their more sensitive health and development needs; 
  • The contribution of free school meals to tackle poverty, with the potential to improve several child and family outcomes such as higher disposable incomes, better nutrition, health and well-being; 
  • Ensuring that in the framework of the Child Guarantee implementation, at least one healthy school meal a day is provided to children in need, expanding progressively the coverage to all children, as well as expansion of healthy school meals during non-school periods; 
  • Promoting and supporting a “whole school food approach”, deepening complementarity with a broader set of social, health, agricultural and environmental policies.

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