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School closures mean children miss out on nutrition, UN warns

05 February 2021

PA

A closed school in Oeiras, near Lisbon, Portugal, last month. The country tightened its lockdown rules and closed schools for two weeks in an attempt to manage soaring coronavirus cases

A closed school in Oeiras, near Lisbon, Portugal, last month. The country tightened its lockdown rules and closed schools for two weeks in an attempt ...

CHILDREN around the world are losing out on their one nutritious meal of the day, as schools stay closed because of the pandemic, UNICEF has said.

In a report published by on Thursday of last week, UNICEF calls on governments to prioritise the reopening of schools to prevent a whole generation from losing a vital source of nutrition. Worldwide, 370 million children in 150 countries have lost nearly half of their meals in school in the past year.

The executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, said: “Despite clear evidence that schools are not primary drivers of Covid-19 infections, millions of children are facing school closures around the world.

“Children who depend on schools for their daily meals are not only losing out on an education, but also on a reliable source of nutrition.”

School feeding programmes play a critical part in encouraging children back into school and keeping them there, particularly girls and the most vulnerable children, decreasing the risk that they will be sent out to work instead.

“Missing out on nutritious school meals is jeopardising the futures of millions of the world’s poorest children. We risk losing a whole generation,” the World Food Programme’s executive director, David Beasley, said.

“We must support governments to safely reopen schools and start feeding these children again. For many, the nutritious meal they get in school is the only food they will receive all day.”

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