Brazil’s Locally Sourced School Lunches

A student farmer harvesting Moringa oleifera leaves to be used in local school lunches at the Waldemar Ribeiro School, Marília, Sao Paulo. (Trees For The Future)

Since 2009, Brazil’s National School Meals Program (PNAE) has required 30 percent of food served in schools to be locally sourced from family farmers. As part of the Brazilian government’s Zero Hunger program, a recent article by Inter Press Service (IPS) explains that PNAE’s main objectives are to provide nutritious meals to the country’s 45 million school children, and to support the 4.3 million small farmers.

PNAE prioritizes small farmers from marginalized communities or with land acquired through Brazil’s land reform. PNAE picks up the produce and delivers it to local agricultural supply centers. These centers also provide technical training to family farmers, though some farmers told IPS the support is insufficient. 

Through this initiative, 83 percent of public schools in Brazil receive locally produced food. Since 2003, PNAE’s budget has increased by 300 percent, and its reach has extended considerably to include more schools. Given this growth, PNAE coordinator, Albaneide Peixinho, tells IPS the program continues to improve by “insisting on respect for the eating habits and the farming preferences of each locality, and the creation of school nutrition councils as oversight bodies.”

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has used Brazil’s successful program as a replicable food security model in countries such as Haiti.

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