Primary school children had better learning outcomes who ate midday meals over an extended period, found researchers of Indian-origin. The findings of the study reveal a powerful connection between nutrition and education.
The study is published in the Journal of Development Economics.
Professors Rajshri Jayaraman from ESMT Berlin in Germany and Tanika Chakraborty from the Indian Institute of Technology in India studied the effects of India's midday meal scheme - the world's largest free school lunch program- feeding over 120 million children every day.
In addition, they showed an improvement of nine per cent for maths test scores.
"The effect of nutrition appears to be cumulative, seen over time. Previous studies have varied between two weeks and two years, and failed to capture the important impact. Our research shows that the real benefit of school lunches was seen in children exposed for two to five years," said Jayaraman.
For the study, the researchers used data from nearly 600 rural districts in India, covering over 200,000 households.
In 2017, World Food Programme implemented or supported school feeding programs for 18.3 million children in 71 countries.