School feeding program as a social safety net has been popular in developing countries as an instrument for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. These programs are frequently targeted towards populations that are food insecure and reside in areas with high concentrations of families from low socioeconomic status, or towards schools that face poor attendance and enrollment of students. There are many studies that have evaluated the impacts of school feeding. However, the evidence on the impact of these programs is not always conclusive. This study presents a conceptual framework of how the Food for Education (FFE) programs work, how they impact children and families, and how they can be linked to agricultural development. The study uses the technique of systematic review of the literature to assess the effectiveness of these programs in achieving educational, nutritional and agricultural development goals. A protocol for finding studies that met the review criteria was established, which resulted in the identification of twenty-six studies from across academic disciplines, including economics, nutrition and education. Analysis of the information extracted from these studies shows that school feeding programs conclusively impact the micronutrient level of targeted children, but have modest and mixed effects on health outcomes as evaluated by anthropometric measurements. While the impact of these interventions on cognitive skills and abilities of students is still uncertain, there is strong evidence that school feeding programs positively affect school enrollment and attendance rates, especially for girls. The review points to several gaps in the literature, including the lack of a systematic analysis of linkages between FFE, sustainability, and agricultural development. There is also a lack of evidence on the cost effectiveness of school feeding programs in delivering desirable outcomes. These are identified as topics for further research.


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