International School Meals Day Date in the current year: March 14, 2024

International School Meals Day International School Meals Day is observed annually on the second Thursday of March. It was launched over a decade ago to raise public awareness of the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating for children of all ages.

A school meal is just what it says on the tin: a meal provided to students at a school; it is typically a breakfast or lunch. Various types of school meal programs exist in many countries around the globe. In developed countries, they help instill healthy eating habits in school-aged children, whereas in developing countries, school meals contribute to food security and help break the cycle of hunger and poverty.

The person credited with introducing the concept of school meals is Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, an American-born British inventor and physicist. In the late 18th century, he spent over a decade in Bavaria establishing workhouses for the poor. At these workhouses, children were taught basic subjects (reading, writing and arithmetic) and received food. Thompson invented a recipe for a soup that was both cheap and nutritious. Named Rumford’s Soup after its creator, the dish consisted of barley, dried peas, vegetables, and sour beer.

Today, different countries have different types of school meal programs. A few countries provide free school meals to all students in compulsory education (universal school meals). More countries have targeted school meal programs where free or affordable school meals are provided to vulnerable categories of students. School meals are typically free in developing countries, whereas in developed countries, free or heavily discounted school meals are available to students from low-income families, whereas the rest of students can purchase their meals at the full price.

International School Meals Day was launched in 2013; events were held in the United Kingdom and the United States. The campaign is coordinated by Children in Scotland, a nonprofit organization that advocates for children’s rights and provides support to children and families in Scotland. International School Meals Day also has many supporters across the UK and the United States, ranging from the Scottish Government to the UN World Food Programme.

The main goals of International School Meals Day are to highlight the connection between healthy meals and better learning, raise awareness of the importance of nutritious school meals, promote healthy eating habits among children around the globe, and emphasize the importance of school meal programs in combating poverty and hunger in some regions of the world.

International School Meals Day unites educators, school administrators, parents, nutritionists, policymakers, charities, and businesses from all over the world, giving them an opportunity to come together to discuss the importance of healthy and nutritious school meals that are available to all students regardless of their level of income.

How can you get involved in International School Meals Day? Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or anyone with an interest in promoting access to healthy school meals, you can organize an event at a local school, for example, a food tasting session, a cooking workshop, a fundraiser for a charity that supports school feeding programs in developing countries, a seminar on healthy eating, and more. And don’t forget to spread the word on social media with the hashtag #InternationalSchoolMealsDay.

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International School Meals Day, international observances, awareness days, school feeding programs, school meals