The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the largest disruption to education systems in history affecting nearly 1.6* billion children globally (UN – United Nations). Many children couldn’t attend school due to forced shutdowns, including 368 million children from 169 countries who usually depend on food they receive at school. To be able to continue with school feeding programmes, Tetra Pak and their partners intensified their collaboration and developed alternative food distribution solutions for school children around the world. According to the World Food Programme, 71 countries around the world implemented alternative food distribution solutions for school children due to the closures.
According to the UN, 94 per cent of the world’s student population has been affected by pandemic response measures throughout 2020. More than 264** million school children did not have access to regular school feeding and nutrition services during the pandemic in 2020 (WFP – World Food Programme). This left the most vulnerable children in a precarious situation – especially in countries that suffer extreme poverty and have infrastructure challenges.
Through great teamwork, innovative solutions were rapidly developed around the world so that school feeding programmes could continue to distribute food safely to children. Tetra Pak supported customers and worked with local governments to implement alternative distribution solutions, such as parents collecting milk directly from schools or arranging delivery to students’ homes.
In China, to enable online orders without face-to-face handover, milk was delivered to storage cabinets that parents unlock using a password shared by mobile. In Japan, take-away meals were offered at discount prices. The Peruvian Air Force transported more than 18 tonnes of food to remote schools in the Amazonas, including UHT milk. In India, states provided UHT milk and ingredients for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme to be sent to children’s homes instead of being cooked in school kitchens.
“During the pandemic, we have learned invaluable lessons including the need for increased investments in health, education, and local agriculture development,” says Rafael Fábrega, Food for Development Director at Tetra Laval. “We continue to actively work in collaboration with customers and key stakeholders, both locally and globally, to share innovative solutions and best practices in school feeding programmes around the world.”
Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, school feeding programmes also ensured the entire dairy value chain continued to function. This has been extremely important for many rural communities around the world, as dairy production plays a key role in supporting the livelihoods of smallholder farming communities.